This story is over 5 years old.


China Tells Trump It Didn’t Invent Climate Change

The history of climate change negotiations was initiated with the support of the Republicans during the Reagan and senior Bush administrations.
Liu Zhenmin. Image: UN Geneva/Flickr

In the weeks following Donald Trump's election as president, many world leaders have taken the time to respond to the future leader of the United States.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Trump a "true friend" of Israel. Russia's president (and top candidate for the position of Trump's BFF), Vladimir Putin, was predictably pleased. Meanwhile, François Hollande, the current president of France, could barely conceal his disappointment in the election's unexpected results.


And today, China's Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, while attending the climate conference COP 22, used his diplomatic platform to address Trump. Except he didn't offer his congratulations. Instead, the Chinese envoy debunked a four-year-old, inaccurate tweet that Trump wrote about global warming.

The exact tweet, which, believe it or not, still exists online, says this:

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

Donald J. TrumpNovember 6, 2012

At a COP 22 briefing in Marrakech, Morocco, Liu told reporters that Trump's tweet wasn't true, according to Bloomberg. "If you look at the history of climate change negotiations, actually it was initiated by the IPCC with the support of the Republicans during the Reagan and senior Bush administration during the late 1980s," Liu said.

The IPCC, or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was officially created in 1988 and acts as the United Nations' scientific task force for addressing issues involving global warming. The United States, under the Reagan Administration, was a key supporter of its formation. As Liu pointed out, at the time, China was not involved with the group's climate negotiations.

While nothing anyone says will reverse the outcome of the election, China's rejection of Trump's climate fearmongering vindicates science and the people who believe in it.


If you remember, during a presidential debate this September, Trump outright denied his past statements on man-made global warming. When opponent Hillary Clinton invoked his previous comments, he replied: "I did not. I do not say that." Yet, after the event, Trump's campaign viciously—and unsuccessfully—attempted to downplay his previous comments.

As you might've guessed from his tweet, Trump also criticized China for causing the downfall of coal in the United States. During a rally in Indiana this year, Trump told a crowd of fossil fuel workers their "coal industry is wiped out, and China is taking our coal." This is false, as China has become the world's largest coal importer, and domestically, the death of the industry is likely attributable to cheap natural gas from fracking.

But aside from the playing the blame game, Trump has also maddened other countries, including China, for vowing to pull out of the historic Paris Agreement climate treaty. And, as my colleague Kaleigh Rogers reported today, this is within the realm of possibility. Trump can indeed "cancel" the US' role in the agreement, though thanks to a specific withdrawal clause, it would take around four years to fully back out, or the length of his presidency.

Back at COP 22, where Liu and other delegates are discussing the future of the agreement, Trump's presidency has dominated much of the conversation. It's up to treaty member to decide what a climate solution will look like without America's help. At the very least, this bit of news may elicit a few laughs.

Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.