Briefing Paper

The last battle of the fossil lobby

Cover: Analyse von Trump's Rosengartenrede
An analysis of Donald Trump's Speech in the White House Rose Garden on June 1

In his speech in the White House Rose Garden on June 1st, 2017, U.S. President Trump announced the intention of the U.S. government to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. This speech marks the clearest sign until now that the U.S. administration is willing to fight the last battle for the fossil fuel lobby – especially for coal and oil. At the same time, Trump's announcement forces other governments to put their cards on the table: Will they side with coal, the past and Trump - or with the necessary transformation, the future and international law?

For this document, we gathered existing analyses and fact-checks of President Trump’s speech and added analysis by Germanwatch experts and additional facts. These show that the key arguments used in the speech are either based on misinformation or on half-truths which were misinterpreted.

Trump‘s claim that the Paris Agreement would cause an immense loss of jobs and high costs for the economy is based on a study of the National Economic Research Associates (NERA), which was commissioned by the US Chamber of Commerce and the Council for Capital Formation. This study assumes an unrealistic and inefficient pathway to decarbonisation. At the same time it doesn’t take into account – as the study authors acknowledge themselves in one footnote – the positive effects of the transformation towards a climate-compatible economy on the labour market. Most studies show however that these positive effects outweigh the negative effects significantly.

Trump claims that the Paris Agreement would cost a lot of jobs and harm the competitiveness of the United States. But contrary to this assertion, job growth in solar energy is 17 times faster than in the U.S. economy overall, wind turbine technicians are the fastest growing professional group in the United States and the Clean Power Plan, introduced by the previous administration to implement the United States' Paris commitments, would have saved US$ 1,886 over 15 years for the average U.S. household.

Trump pretends that his policy would lead to a renaissance of coal and create lots of new jobs. The truth is, however, that coal-fired power stations continue to close during Trump's time in office – for competitiveness reasons. It is true that some coal mines – for example in Pennsylvania and West Virginia – have opened recently, but those are producing a special type of coal for the steel industry, not for electricity generation. Trump mentions the opening of a big new coal mine. This refers to a new mine in Jennerstone that, according to the company, will create 70-100 new jobs.

Trump claims that the great competitor China would be allowed to increase its emissions over the next 13 years and do whatever it wants during that period. He does not mention that China has committed to not increasing its emissions after 2030 and that the CO2 emissions per unit of GDP would decrease about 60-65% by then. He does not take into account that China is not only fully on track to meet these commitments, but about to reach its emissions peak many years ahead of 2030. Indeed, China’s emissions did not increase during the last three years. China plans to install more renewable energy capacity until 2030 than the total installed generation capacity in the United States today.

Trump claims the Paris Agreement would be unfair to the United States. He does not mention at all that the United States is the nation which caused more emissions than any other country since the industrial revolution and that the poorest people on this planet, predominantly in developing countries, are harmed most by the global climate crisis. From this perspective the announced US administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is extremely unfair.

Trump claims that the implementation of the Paris Agreement would only reduce global temperature increase by 0.2°C. But according to the best available estimates, based on current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) under the Paris Agreement, the reduction would be 0.8°C – which is equal to the temperature increase we have already experienced since the beginning of industrialisation. In addition, governments have agreed that they will improve their NDCs every five years.

No one should take it lightly that the most important world power is waging the last battle for the fossil fuel lobby. But the arguments Trump used in his speech are grossly misguiding his own citizens and world society. Such false arguments will prove to be short-lived. Ultimately, they show how desperate the struggle of the fossil lobby must be already.

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Briefing Paper


A compilation by Christoph Bals and Katharina Hierl

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Policy Director
+49 (0)228 / 60 492-34

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