US President Donald Trump backed his decision Thursday to pull the US out of the Paris climate accord citing projections of economic losses to America and what he referred to as “unfair” advantages to other countries, naming India and China. Trump said the Paris accord had placed “onerous energy restrictions” on the US that would come with costs, quoting figures from a study.
He said China could increase its Earth-warming greenhouse-gas emissions for 13 years, and India makes its participation (in the Paris accord) contingent on receiving “billions and billions and billions of dollars” in foreign aid from developed countries.
But climate policy analysts and economists say he may have exaggerated the leeway India and China enjoy and may have disregarded the jobs and economic gains to emerge from clean energy pathways.
Claim: The Paris accord would place "onerous energy restrictions" on America that would lead to loss of jobs, loss of household income, and "decimation of vital American industries ..."
- -2.7 million jobs lost by 2025
- -6.5 million jobs lost by 2040
- -US$ 3 trillion loss to US GDP by 2040
- -US$ 7,000 less income for households
- -Paper industry down by 12 per cent
- -Iron and steel industry down by 38 per cent
- -Coal down by 86 per cent
- -Natural gas down by 31 per cent
The study Trump cited for these figures has been described by several analysts, including Kevin Steinberger and Amanda Levin with the US non-government Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) as containing “exaggerated and deceptive claims” about the costs and benefits of achieving climate goals. Paul Caballero, global director for the climate programme with the World Resources Institute in Washington DC said the pullout represents a “huge missed economic opportunity,” making America less competitive in the bustling global clean energy market while other countries are ramping up investments to sell more innovative technologies, generate jobs, and create economic growth.
Andrew Light, another WRI expert, pointed out that the US renewable energy and efficiency industries have created three million jobs and the solar and wind industries are creating jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the US economy.
Cabellero also cited an announcement by China earlier this year to invest US$360 billion in renewable energy over the next three years, generating 13 million jobs.
The NRDC analysts have said the study, commissioned by the US Chamber of Commerce and the American Council for Capital Formation, has “headline numbers” derived from a “fictional scenario” that does not reflect current proposals or realistic plans to achieve America’s climate goals. They said the study “conveniently neglected” to analyse the most flexible and efficient way of achieving the reductions.
Claim: “India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries.”
Trump is right in claiming India’s participation is contingent on receiving finance from the developed countries. But much of this finance is expected to primarily emerge from commercial institutions and not taxpayers in the US or other developed countries. The US government had so far given only US$ 3 billion to the Green Climate Fund -- a UN monitored kitty to generate US$ 100 billion per year from 2020 to help developing countries transition to cleaner energy and adapt to climate change.
Of this, Obama transferred only US$ 1 billion days before leaving office. Trump is almost certain to resist paying even the remaining commitment. These figures contrast with India’s estimates that it would require US$ 2.5 trillion from domestic and foreign funding sources between 2015 and 2030 to support its climate change actions.
Claim: "India can double its coal production by 2020 “ … “China will be able to increase these emissions by a staggering number of years -- 13. “They (China) can do whatever they want for 13 years.”
India imposed a cess on coal in 2010 and quadrupled it to Rs 200 per tonne in 2015. India is also promoting an ambitious expansion of renewable energy such as solar and wind power with the goal of attaining 175,000 MW renewable energy capacity by 2022, and a 40 per cent installed capacity from non-fossil fuels by 2030. A report by European analysts earlier this year had pointed out that China’s coal consumption declined over three consecutive years, 2013 through 2016, while India has indicated that its planned coal-fired power plants may not be needed and India likely to experience a “significant slowdown” in its coal emissions.