MIT Is Not Happy That Trump "Misunderstood" Their Paris Agreement Study


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

"Tiny, tiny amount." Trump during his Rose Garden speech yesterday. The New York Times via YouTube

Trump said some incredibly stupid things during his Paris pullout speech yesterday, and you can have a browse through the most dunderheaded of them here. One particular quote, however, was likely to garner attention from academics more than most.

Vaguely citing an MIT study, at one point, Trump appeared to point out the supposed ineffectiveness of the climate accords. “Even if the Paris agreement was implemented in full,” he said, “it is estimated that it would implement two-tenths of a degree of temperature reduction by 2100.”


Reuters appeared to locate the study he was referring to, which came out in April 2016 and was entitled “How much of a difference will the Paris Agreement make?”

The study uses the most cutting-edge climate modeling to work out how effective the climate accord would be, based on the greenhouse gas (GHG)-cutting plans submitted by all the signatories. The team concluded that the global surface average temperature would go up, compared to pre-Industrial times, by 2°C (3.6°F) in 2053, and between 2.7°C (4.9°F) and 3.6°C (6.5°F) by 2100 – exceeding the 2°C goal.

So this study concludes that the Paris agreement is not yet enough. Importantly though, it does not take into account a major facet of the agreement, and the team makes this very clear.

The study assumes that by 2030, the GHG-cutting plans submitted by the signatories back in 2015 will continue to be the same throughout the century. What the Paris agreement actually requires, however, is for the plans to be strengthened over time. As the researchers do not know what these are yet, they just used the original GHG-cutting frameworks in their models.


The researchers conclude that the Paris agreement, then, is not currently enough, but strengthening it over time will help achieve its goal of limiting warming to 2°C. America withdrawing from the pact makes it more difficult to do so.

Either way, Trump’s “0.2°C” figure is nowhere to be found, and may be ripped from an unrelated study that doesn’t take Paris into account.


As you would expect, MIT itself is not happy about the President's misrepresentation of its research.

“We certainly do not support the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris agreement,” said Erwan Monier, one of the study's authors.


John Reilly, the co-director of the program, added that MIT's scientists had had no contact with the White House and were not offered a chance to explain their work.

The White House, when asked about this, replied: “It's not just MIT. I think there is a consensus… that the Paris agreement in and of itself will have a negligible impact on climate.”

So they essentially put their fingers in their ears and made loud noises.

[H/T: Reuters]


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