Updated Dec 8, 2018 - Energy & Environment

Trump inaccurately blames Paris Agreement as riots continue in France

Protestoers in Paris on Saturday. Photo: Abdul Abeissa/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump inaccurately claimed that the riots in Paris are a backlash against the Paris Agreement on Saturday, tweeting: "People do not want to pay large sums of money, much to third world countries (that are questionably run), in order to maybe protect the environment."

"The Paris Agreement isn’t working out so well for Paris. Protests and riots all over France. People do not want to pay large sums of money, much to third world countries (that are questionably run), in order to maybe protect the environment. Chanting 'We Want Trump!' Love France."
— President Trump

The big picture: The riots in Paris — which started over proposed fuel tax increases and have expanded into protests against the cost of living and President Emmanuel Macron himself — have been the worst the city has seen in decades. Macron has canceled the fuel tax implementation after initially suspending it for six months, which Trump has previously incorrectly called a signal that Macron agreed that the Paris Agreement "is fatally flawed."

  • CNN reported this week that on-the-ground personnel "have seen no evidence" to support the claim that protestors are chanting "We want Trump." Paris-based Agence-France Presse (AFP) also debunked that claim.

The latest: The protests have cost millions of dollars in damage, resulting in the arrests of hundreds of protestors, and the death of at least four people.

  • The New York Times reports that the city braced itself for another round of riots on Saturday, and that the Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said he expected "only a couple of thousand protestors in Paris," but that it could become "ultraviolent." Around 89,000 police were deployed throughout France.
  • Many shops and museums in Paris, including the Eiffel Tower, were closed down, Reuters reports. Much of Paris "looked like a ghost town...on what should have been a festive pre-Christmas shopping day."

The response to the tax, which unlike Trump’s assertion is not actually contained in the Paris Agreement, shows what can happen when policies increase the costs of fossil fuels in ways that hurt one segment of society.

  • While the gas tax in France is not directly tied to the Paris Agreement, it is true that policies to address climate change would likely make fossil fuels more expensive.

Trump followed up with a second tweet on the matter Saturday saying, "[m]aybe it’s time to end the ridiculous and extremely expensive Paris Agreement and return money back to the people in the form of lower taxes?"

Reality check: The protests in Paris are not about the Paris Agreement, and the agreement didn't impose additional taxes.

  • In 2017 many countries saw emissions go down, but U.S. emissions projected to rise sharply in 2018 in part due Trump’s policies. Global emissions expected to hit record highs in 2018 as world makes progress too slowly to meet Paris’ goals.

The bottom line: Anna Mikulska, who is with the Baker Institute's Center for Energy Studies, writes for Axios that resistance such as that in France "highlights the need to understand the mindset of billions of people...whose economic situation makes it difficult for them to justify immediate costs to their well-being...in exchange for the diffuse future benefits of climate action."

Axios' Andrew Freedman contributed to this story.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include the president's latest tweet.

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