Trump describes US as cleanest nation, but facts muddy the claim

WASHINGTON — President Trump said the United States ‘‘will continue to be the cleanest and most environmentally friendly country on Earth’’ as he announced a US pullout from an international accord designed to curb climate change.

But facts muddy that claim.

Data show that the United States is among the dirtiest countries when it comes to heat-trapping carbon pollution. One nation that has cleaner air in nearly every way is Sweden.


‘‘The US is well behind other countries in having the cleanest and most sustainable environment,’’ University of Michigan environmental scientist Rosina Bierbaum said in an e-mail.

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The United States emits more carbon dioxide than any other nation except China. In 2014, the nation spewed 237 times more carbon dioxide into the air than Sweden, according to figures by the Department of Energy.

‘‘On pretty much any climate-related indicator, the US will not look good,’’ said Glen Peters, a Norwegian climate scientist who’s part of the Global Carbon Project that ranks worldwide emissions.

The United States is No. 2 in per person carbon dioxide pollution among 35 developed nations plus China, India and Brazil, Energy Department data show.

That’s 19.1 tons of carbon dioxide per year for the average American, compared with 4.9 tons for the average Swede.


Taking into account economics, the United States ranks 10th highest in carbon pollution per gross domestic product.