White House Press Coordinator (?) US Carbon Emissions Reduced by 30% (?)

I heard this on NPR and I didn’t catch the guy’s name. Not the White House Press Secretary, but some White House Press liaison of some sort, so that’s my first question, who was that guy? His named was something like Giddings?

He kept on galloping, and the NPR interviewer actually had to mute his microphone, but one thing he managed to say was that since the US withdrew from the Paris Global Warming Accords, no nation other than the US has reduced carbon emissions, and the US has reduced carbon emissions by 30%. The NPR interviewer casually said, “We’ll fact-check that.” Well, Dopers, fact-check with them? Have any nations reduced carbon emissions? Has the US reduced carbon emissions by 30%

I thought about putting this in Great Debates, but, honestly, I just want the true answers to these two questions. Thank you all most kindly!

Brian Morgenstern, the White House deputy press secretary, was recently on NPR, it could have been him.
According to Statista US Carbon Emissions was 5.999 billion metric tons in 2005, the baseline year for the Paris Accords. It is expected to be 4.543 billion metric tons in 2020, a reduction of 24%.

Did any other countries show reductions?

Uh, you know 2020 is a oddball year in which loads of manufacturing plants were closed or on skelton crew. And people were not driving half of what the did before Covid19. So he is seeing a positive out of a negative, how quaint. How did we did we do in 2019?

Two thoughts come to mind for me:

  • Many individual U.S. states have been working to reduce emissions since 2005, irrespective of U.S. federal policies.
  • The past 7 months of 2020 are an anomaly. Due to COVID-19, emissions have dramatically decreased as people have traveled less due to being laid off or working at home, as well as forgoing vacation travel, not to mention reduced emissions due to the massive contraction of the economy.

Keep in mind that 2020 is not over yet. According to projections on ClimateActionTracker.org :

  • Australia is expected to show 10% to 11 % reduction in 2020 over 2019.
  • Canada : 11% to 13% reduction.
  • Singapore: 8% to 12% reduction.
  • EU as a whole: 10% to 11% reduction.
  • China: 0.8% increase to 7.7% reduction.
  • Brazil: 4% reduction… if not considering land use / deforestation.
  • USA: 10% to 11% reduction.
  • Russia: 8% to 10% reduction.
  • UK: 13% to 17% reduction.

What I think I heard the guy say was since the US withdrew from the Paris accords, and not just pointing to 2020. But, clearly, other countries are reducing output, so…the guy was factually incorrect?

Since the claim is about the period between U.S. withdrawal from the accords and today, I guess we’d need data for 2017 to make the comparison.

Although, strictly speaking, the U.S. will not withdraw until next month (Wikipedia) :

On November 4, 2019, the administration gave a formal notice of intention to withdraw, which takes 12 months to take effect. So, the earliest possible effective withdrawal date by the United States cannot be before November 4, 2020, four years after the Agreement came into effect in the United States(…). The White House later clarified that the U.S. will abide by the four-year exit process.

From Statista, year|million metric tonnes emitted by the USA.
So certainly a downward trend over the last decade compared to 2004/5/6/7, however I wouldn’t suggest it’s statistically significant the trend would continue. Seems like something of a step change has occured to achieve current levels and that’s all you could say for now. 2020 will clearly be an outlier for obvious reasons.

You could probably cherry pick your way to a mid twenties % reduction but that’d be a bit misleading. Plotting the reduction of the three or five year rolling average shows something like a 14% reduction