President Trump, concerned about poor performance with Millennials and Independents is now touting his record in reducing US carbon emissions. This Pants-On-Fire lie has him taking credit for a decade-long trajectory toward lower emissions that is predominantly caused by a shift from one fossil fuel (coal) to another (natural gas). His role in emissions from 2017-2018 is minimal, as carbon emissions respond very slowly to policy changes — consider when emissions change when a auto emissions policy is put into place, or power plant policy change is made – years to decades into the future.
Most importantly, in judging Trumps’ actual performance on dealing with climate change, is that the Trump administration cannot point to a single policy change that will reduce future emissions.
Trump is like a relief pitcher coming in for the ninth inning with a score of 1-0, intentionally walking the based loaded, and touting his team’s lead to people who haven’t been watching. We know that he is setting us up for a major setback, and he’s truly playing for the other team, the fossil fuel industry. Perversely, he claims victory for emissions reductions that resulted from a switchover from coal to natural gas, when one of his top goals has been to save the coal industry. More perversely, his speech claimed false progress on emissions, yet still has never conceded that climate change is a problem – it’s a delicate dance he does, with his pants on fire.
This discussion does raise the question of whether the US is already “doing its share” when it comes to reducing emissions. If the emissions have been on the decline for the past decade, are we therefore doing a good job? The answer is a resolute No – as the reductions have resulted predominantly from a shift from coal to natural gas, our energy and transportation infrastructure have not moved away from fossil fuels, and we have actually made very few of the difficult structural changes needed to put us on track for the 80-100% reductions in carbon emissions necessary to solve the problem. As these reductions need to occur within a decade or two, the present moment is critical for aggressive changes that Obama sought to set into motion with his Clean Power Plan and automobile emissions reduction standards, both of which Trump has buried.
Nothing is more important than removing Trump from the pitcher’s mound before he causes irreparable damage to the livability of our planet for future generations. The New York Times published a nice fact check article on his recent speech, but it only identifies his “misleading” explicit statements.
Let there be no doubt: Trump’s is out testing the theme that he is helping fix the problem of climate change, and this is a Pants On Fire lie.