FACT CHECK: 5 Claims From Trump’s Climate Change Tweets

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Reporter

President Donald Trump tweeted “FACTS that #FakeNewsCNN will ignore” as CNN hosted a seven-hour climate town hall Wednesday for the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

Here are five checks on his claims.

Claim 1: “Which country has the largest carbon emission reduction? AMERICA!”

The U.S. did indeed have the largest reduction in total emissions between 2005 and 2017, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. In that time frame, the U.S. reduced its emissions by 758 million tons (the Global Carbon Project reported a similar but slightly higher number) compared to the United Kingdom, which had the second largest reduction at 170 million fewer tons. India and China, on the other hand, increased their total emissions by 1 and 3 billion tons, respectively.

When gauged in percentage of total emissions, several countries outperformed America’s 14% emission reduction, including Britain (33%), Italy (28%) and France (18%), according to data from the Global Carbon Project.

Nonetheless, the U.S. is still ranked the number two emitter of carbon dioxide at around 15% of global carbon emissions, behind China’s approximately 28%.

Claim 2: “Who has dumped the most carbon into the air? CHINA!”

China currently leads the world in both carbon and total greenhouse gas emissions, reports Forbes. China accounted for around 28% of global carbon emissions in 2018.

However, the U.S. has historically dumped more carbon into the atmosphere. The U.S. emitted approximately 270 billion tons of carbon dioxide compared to China’s approximately 200 billion tons from 1965 to 2018, according to data from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

The Global Carbon Project reports slightly different figures — the U.S. has emitted 286.2 billion tons since 1959, whereas China has emitted 196.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide in the same time period.

Claim 3: “91% of the world’s population are exposed to air pollution above the World Health Organization’s suggested level. NONE ARE IN THE U.S.A.!”

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 91% of the global population lives in areas where the air quality exceeds WHO guideline limits, putting these people at an increased risk for air pollution-related health issues.

Contrary to Trump’s claim, some Americans do live in areas where air quality fails to meet the WHO’s standard for PM2.5, a common metric for air quality that measures the concentration of harmful particulate pollution. Though most of the country has safe levels of air pollution by the WHO’s standard, multiple locations across the country – including Los Angeles, an area outside Chicago and several spots in the Midwest – have air pollution levels well above them, according to an interactive map

Around 15% of the U.S. population lives in counties where particulate pollution concentrations exceed the WHO guideline, according to the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.

Claim 4: “The U.S. now leads the world in energy production…”

For natural gas, petroleum and other liquid fuels, America ranks first in energy production, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). It produced an average of 71.1 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas (Bcf/d) in 2017, more than Russia, the second largest producer that yielded 61.5 Bcf/d, according to Forbes.

The U.S. also became the largest producer of crude oil in 2018.

The most recent data from the EIA, however, put the U.S. behind China in terms of total primary energy production, which includes fossil fuels, renewables and nuclear energy. The U.S. produced 84 quadrillion British thermal units (BTUs) of primary energy in 2016, according to the EIA, whereas China produced 107 quadrillion BTUs.

Claim 5: “Who’s got the world’s cleanest and safest air and water? AMERICA!”

“For the issues of ‘Air Quality’ and ‘Water & Sanitation,’ the U.S. is near the top but not at the very top,” Zach Wendling, a principal investigator for the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), said in an email to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

America ranks 29th for water and sanitation and 10th for air quality (though it ranks 88th for exposure to particulate pollution), according to data from the EPI, an index Yale and Columbia University created that quantifies and ranks the environmental policies of various countries. It’s also tied for first place with nine other countries for drinking water quality.

The U.S. placed 27th out of 180 countries in terms of overall environmental performance, according to the EPI’s 2018 report.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Reporter
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