Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 4, Episode 14 - Paris Agreement - full transcript

The U.S. pull out from the Paris agreement. Plus the London terror attacks and this week in Putin.

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Welcome to Last Week Tonight.

I'm John Oliver.
Thank you so much for joining us.

A quick word regarding
last night's attacks in London,

where seven people were killed
and multiple people were injured.

Our thoughts
go out to everyone affected.

But as a British person
living in America,

I feel compelled to address
a certain theme

that emerged through
American coverage of this tragedy.

The UK is reeling this morning
from yet another terrorist attack.

- A city reeling from a terror attack.
- The UK under siege, essentially.

London is under siege.

A country and a city that feels
in some ways under siege.

Ok, here is the thing: for the record,
in no way is Britain under siege.

Is it upset ? Yes.
Is it pissed off ?

You fucking bet it's pissed off.

But to say it's under siege,
and that its people are reeling,

is to imply that it's weak enough
to be brought to its knees

by three monumental assholes.

And that as an idea is insulting.

British people were so irritated
by headlines about Britain reeling,

like this one in the New York Times,
they took to Twitter this morning,

using the hashtag things
that leave Britain reeling,

to show things that,
unlike terrorists,

actually do have the ability
to rock them to their very core,

like, accidental eye contact
on the tube or in a lift,

and when people make tea
in the microwave,

accompanied with a GIF
of a monkey screaming.

It was an uplifting demonstration
of quintessentially British defiance.

The British people are never going
to let terror change their way of life.

And if you need proof of this,
just look at this footage

of people being evacuated
from the scene.

You see that guy ? He refused
to leave his pint of beer behind.

That is a one man walking
Keep Calm and Carry On poster.

Perhaps my favorite reaction
of all came from this man,

who was in a restaurant
and witnessed the attacks first-hand.

He went back
to that restaurant

to try and pay his bill
and tip the staff,

and when a reporter asked whether
he was worried about his safety,

this was his incredible

If me having a gin and tonic with my
friends, flirting with handsome men,

hanging out with brilliant women,
is what offends these people so much,

I'm going to do it more, not less,
that's what makes London so great.

Fuck yeah, it is !

I sincerely hope that that guy
is out on the town tonight,

pounding down gin and tonics
and flirting with every man he sees.

To you sir, I say this: cheers.

Cheers to you !

But for now,
let's move on to Vladimir Putin.

Perhaps the biggest threat
to the United States

after the President
of the United States.

Putin was appearing

in newly released clips for the
upcoming Oliver Stone series on him,

which looks like a truly depressing
episode of Carpool Karaoke,

and also appearing as guest of honor
on Megyn Kelly's new NBC show,

which I assume is called, forget
everything I said on FOX since 2004.

But the most notable thing
Putin said,

was when he admitted,
for the first time,

that Russian citizens may have been
involved in hacking the U.S. election.

Hackers are free-spirited people,
like artists.

If they wake up in the morning
in a good mood, they paint pictures.

Same way with hackers.
They wake up one morning,

read that something is going on
in international relations,

and if they are patriotically minded,
they contribute in their own way.

Sure. Hackers are just artistic
types looking for inspiration.

They're like an improv troupe who said:
we need a location to get started.

And someone in the audience shouted:
inside the email server at the DNC.

Putin's coy answer there has now
just added smoke to the concerns

about Russia's connections
to the Trump administration.

Smoke that got ever
so slightly thicker,

after some news that got a bit lost
in other developments.

The Washington Post
out with a report

alleging the White House
is looking to give Russia back

its compounds
in Maryland and New York.

Russian officials were ousted
from those diplomatic compounds,

by the Obama administration
in late December

in a direct response to Moscow's
interference in the 2016 election.

It seems the U.S. is considering
giving Russia back two compounds,

which have, since the Reagan era, been
associated with spying on Americans.

With Trump in office, it seems Putin
is about as likely to get what he wants

as a Make-A-Wish kid
who wants to meet Jason Mraz.

Really ? Jason's definitely available.
I'm just saying...

Really ?

This is worrying
because the compounds

are connected to the scandal
that tripped up Michael Flynn,

whose face answers the question,
what if an eagle hated Muslims ?

You may remember
that Flynn got in trouble

for misleading answers about
phone calls with Russia's ambassador

during the Trump transition.

One subject was allegedly
whether Donald Trump

would roll back sanctions
on Russia,

sanctions that included
closing these two compounds.

It seems that not only
may that happen,

but we're not really
expecting much in return.

The Trump administration appears to be
willing to give back those 2 compounds,

one in Maryland and one in New York
to the Russians

that had been seized
by the Obama administration.

But Russia's not coming to the table
to give us anything back.

And that is why this looks so bad.

Trump may be handing
the Russians back compounds

in the midst of a special
counsel investigating

whether his campaign
colluded with Russia,

an investigation that includes
the issue of those very compounds

he may now be returning,
and he could be doing all of this

while receiving nothing
for America in return.

I kind of hope Putin
does have a golden shower tape of him,

because otherwise, Trump is the worst
dealmaker in human history.

Which shouldn't be a surprise,

because we all remember
the name of his famous book:

The art of the...
Look I never wanted any of this.

This was a branding exercise
that got out of hand.

God the Russians
are on the phone again,

tell them I'm not here, Jared,
what did you do, Jared ?

Shit !

And now, this...

And now, 60 Minutes anchors
are still prompting people

to give them the exact sound bites
they need.

Does that not strike you
as incredibly cynical ?

It's incredibly cynical.
That's exactly what it is.

- Do you see it as a moral obligation ?
- Yeah. It's a moral obligation.

It was classified information.

Effective and overwhelming response.

And empowering a criminal network.

It was just a coincidence.

And it takes off.

That's why it's powerful.

The same way.

And I'm five years old.

500 a day.

Half a billion dollars.

- In cash ?
- In cash.


- You wanted more.
- More.

- So, that's your shtick ?
- My shtick.

Moving on.

Our main story tonight concerns earth,
the adopted home world of Bjork.

What are you ?

Now the reason we have to talk
about earth tonight is this.

President Trump revealing his decision
to the country, to the world.

"We're out", he says, pulling out
of the Paris Climate Accord.

I was elected to represent...

the citizens of Pittsburgh,
not Paris.

First, relax, no one, for a second,
thought that you represented Paris.

Partly because Paris is represented
by a smoking French bulldog

who found the first course
to be derivative and jejune.

Trump announced he would pull out
of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Which is hardly surprising as a title,
it is so off-brand for him,

it might have been called the globalist
cuck surrender, or a light jog.

Yet, pulling out of this
is a huge deal.

To understand why, it helps
to keep in mind one key number,

and it's two degrees Celsius.

It's a bit of a shorthand,
but the concern is that,

if we fail to limit temperature
rise to that number,

things get very bad,
and potentially irreversible.

Scientists say we'll likely see
longer droughts and heat waves,

which could cause big disruptions
to the world's food supply.

If we don't start
with rapid emissions reductions

and substantial emissions reductions,
then we'll pass a danger point,

beyond which the consequences
for many people and countries on earth

will simply become unacceptable
and eventually disastrous.

It's true, and we are not talking
about a fictional apocalypse

like the one in the movie, 2012.

We're talking about an actual
global disaster, like the movie, 2012.

And the serious danger may actually
be more imminent than you think.

To have a good chance of avoiding
the 2 degree threshold,

human emissions of CO2 should
stay below this level, in total.

This is our so-called carbon budget.
And by the end of last year,

we were estimated
to already be up to here.

If current emissions trends continue,

we would go above that critical line
in about 20 years.

And that is not a long time !

20 years ago,
South Park was on TV,

Foo Fighters were touring,
and Paul Rudd looked like this.

What I'm saying is:
20 years ago was basically now !

So the Paris Agreement's central aim
was to try and keep

our global temperature rise
below that 2 degree threshold.

For that, each signatory
would set their own goals,

with a plan to reconvene
every five years,

to ideally
set more ambitious targets.

And look: it was not perfect.

Some critics at the time felt
that it did not go far enough.

But the key achievement was,
for the very first time,

getting virtually the entire world,
including China and India,

to commit to taking action.

It was a historic moment,
and it was celebrated like this.

The moment the world agreed
to tackle climate change.

And so the Paris Agreement
was born.

Emotions spilled over.

So much so that Laurent Fabius
banged the gavel again.

So, I have been asked
to bang the gavel again.

It's a little gavel, but I think
it can do great things.

Okay, listen, I'll say this...

if you are trying to convince
people of the gravity of a moment,

maybe don't use such
a humiliatingly shitty gavel

because it just undercuts
what you're trying to say.

It would not be appropriate for a judge
to conclude a death penalty by saying,

I hereby sentence you
to hang by the neck until dead.

May God have mercy
upon your soul.

Right ?

Solemn moment,
solemn moment for everybody.

So, why did Trump announce
that he would pull out this week ?

One clue may've come
during his speech on Thursday,

when he talked
about that happy celebration,

but seemed to see
something sinister in it.

The rest of the world applauded
when we signed the Paris Agreement.

They went wild.
They were so happy.

For the simple reason
that it put our country,

the United States of America,
which we all love,

at a very big
economic disadvantage.

What are you talking about ?

They were happy because
they secured a landmark victory

for the future of the planet,
you fucking egomaniac !

The whole world is not secretly
conspiring against the United States.

The only thing the whole world
is secretly conspiring to do

is convince everyone
that there are two Olsen twins.

No way it is just one girl, moving
very quickly backwards and forwards.

It's an optical illusion. The Olsen
twins thing is a massive scam.

The whole world is in on it,

and the only thing that
I don't quite know yet is why.

But we don't have time for that.

The point is, if the agreement was
a scheme to hurt American businesses,

you know who
that might be news to ?

Many American businesses.

Because they were not just
in favor of this agreement,

they even made a last-ditch
attempt to change Trump's mind.

25 companies,
including Microsoft and Intel

have purchased a fullpage
ad in today's New York Times

arguing, the agreement generates jobs
and economic growth.

He was never going to be convinced
by an ad in the New York Times.

How was he going to see it ?

If the companies
wanted to get his attention,

they needed to talk KFC
into putting out a full-bucket ad.

Which, he would read on the toilet,
while eating chicken.

Because that, at its core,
is who our President is.

But rather than listening
to those companies,

the President was getting advice
from climate change skeptics

like his EPA Chief, Scott Pruitt, and
human custody hearing Steve Bannon.

Although really,
Trump's actions were in keeping

with a long-held skepticism that
he has concerning climate change.

He has called it expensive bullshit,
and a hoax created by China,

and he repeatedly brought that idea
up on the campaign trail,

often before losing track
of what he was talking about.

China isn't abiding by anything.

They're buying all of our coal;
we can't use coal anymore.

They're buying our coal.

Now when you talk about the planet,
it's so big out there

we're here, they're there, it's like
they're our next-door neighbor.

In terms of the universe.
Miss Universe, by the way,

I made a great deal when I sold it,
did I get rich.

That was a great deal.

They broke my choppers, they said
he talks about illegal immigration,

we are not going to put him
on television.

NBC, I made a great deal
with them, just like an amazing deal.

Why can't you finish a thought ?

That was 36 seconds, touching on
at least 7 different topics,

including the non-phrase,
broke my choppers,

and yet he did not conclude
a single thought there.

A goldfish would hear that speech
and go, hey, hey, hey focus !

Get back to China !
You were talking about China !

What is wrong with this...
God I'm drowning !

When you combine
Trump's lack of attention to detail,

with his deep-rooted paranoia,
you get misleading reasons

that he cited on Thursday
for pulling out of Paris.

He seemed to think
the agreement committed America

to shutting down
coal-fired power plants.

China will be allowed to build
hundreds of additional coal plants.

We can't build the plants, but they
can, according to this agreement.

India will be allowed to double
its coal production by 2020.

Think of it. India can double
their coal production.

We're supposed to get rid of ours.

For the record, the agreement
doesn't actually ban America

from building coal plants.

It doesn't even contain
the word "coal".

Each country sets its own goals
that it can meet however it wants.

So that is wrong. As is the fact
that Trump said in his speech,

"America would continue
to be the cleanest"

"and most environmentally-friendly
country on Earth",

which is objectively untrue,
because over history,

the U.S. has emitted by far more
carbon than any other country,

and we still emit more per person
than almost any other nation.

So that's like Mark Wahlberg
saying he's going to continue

to be the best dentist on the planet.

How are you going to do that ?
That's not what you are, Mark.

Maybe you could decide to do that.
But you're definitely not doing it now.

There is Trump's concern
over the Green Climate Fund,

which finances projects
in developing nations,

helping them adapt
to the impacts of climate change.

Watch now as Trump
describes that fund.

The Green Fund would likely
obligate the United States to commit

tens of billions of dollars

of which the United States
has already handed over

$1 billion.

Nobody else is even close.

To his credit, that is an impressive
amount of misleading bullshit

in very few words.

In fact, here is everything
that he just said.

Let's break those words down.
First: "The Green Fund".

It's not called "The Green Fund"
it's called "The Green Climate Fund".

Then, "would likely obligate
the United States to commit money".

There is no enforcement
mechanism in the Paris Agreement.

The U.S. could easily
just refuse to pay the bill,

something Donald Trump
has a lifetime of practice doing.

As for the "potentially tens
of billions of dollars ?"

No, we committed
three billion dollars.

You can't just inflate three
to "potentially tens".

I can't say that you have had
"potentially tens" of failed marriages.

I can only say that you've had three.
Because you have.

You have had
three failed marriages,

and yes, I am very much including
your current one.

Finally, "nobody else is even close"
to paying more ?

That is just willfully misleading.

While we have given the most
so far in sheer dollars,

we are one of the richest countries,
and one of the top emitters.

And when you rank contributions
as a fraction of GDP, we are 32nd.

Trump's description of the agreement
is so flamboyantly deceptive,

would've been equally accurate to say
compliance with the Paris Agreement

would likely require all ducks
to wear jean shorts,

and that it would potentially cost
each and every American citizen

five fish and a dump-truck
full of hamsters.

That would be
as true as what he just said.

And even when he tried to strike
a reassuring tone, he got it wrong.

So we're getting out
but we will start to negotiate

and we will see if we can make
a deal that's fair.

And if we can, that's great.
And if we can't, that's fine.

Except no, it is not fine, is it ?

Because, the leaders of Germany,
France, and Italy said in a statement,

"we firmly believe that the Paris
Agreement cannot be renegotiated."

And I would not test
Europe's leaders

when it comes to pulling out
of a major international agreement.

Britain is trying that bullshit
right now with Brexit,

and maybe you can send your
demands to the same email address

that Europe set up for that.

It's "lick dot our nuts
at go fuck yourselves dot EU".

So, drop them a line.
They'll answer.

But I have saved for last Trump's
most ludicrous misunderstanding.

For a man who cites the agreement's
strict, onerous and draconian terms,

what he does not seem to comprehend
is each nation sets its own goals,

and more importantly:
the whole thing is fucking voluntary.

The agreement as a whole
is not legally binding

and doesn't penalize nations
who fail to meet their commitments.

But it does include a process designed
to shame them into compliance.

It's true,
the only penalty was shame.

Unfortunately, this president
is immune to the very concept of that.

If they even tried to shame him
into compliance,

he could just hold up this photo
of him in a too short bathrobe

on what appears to be
a child's bed, and say,

"I posed for that."

"You cannot hurt me any more
than I've already hurt myself."

And you may be thinking:

"If it's all voluntary,
then what is the harm in leaving ?"

The truth is it's substantial.

Let's start with just the harm to
America's standing in the world alone.

Trump's decision to leave the agreement
has pissed off almost everyone.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel
called it extremely regrettable.

Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau
called it disheartening.

And the Vatican went further,

saying Mr. Trump's decision
was a disaster for everyone.

We are getting shit-talked
by the Vatican.

And not the Nazi Pope, the cool one !
That's worse.

That is like getting into a Twitter
fight with the Dalai Lama.

He doesn't snap often,
but when he snaps, he snaps hard.

That reputational harm can have
real costs for businesses abroad.

An environmental negotiator who worked
in the George W. Bush administration

described this decision as,

"the worst thing for brand America
since Abu Ghraib."

And that is rough,
because a bad association

can stick with a brand
for a long time.

Just ask Sexual Assault Pudding Cups,
Double Murder Car Rentals,

or Mr. Touchy's Fresh 'N
Tasty Pedo-Sandwiches.

And there is the harm
to American workers,

the very people
Trump is claiming to protect.

Most of the world now realizes
that in order to reduce emissions,

we need to shift
to renewable forms of energy.

And the more
a government encourages that,

the quicker costs come down,
and the more likely that that country

is to be at the forefront
of a new industry,

creating countless jobs
in the process.

And you know who knows that ?

Or, as Trump would say, Chiiina.

Trump just handed
a huge advantage to them.

They've not only canceled plans

to build more than
100 coalfired power plants,

they're also increasing
investment elsewhere.

China plans to spend more than $360
billion on renewable energy by 2020,

which it says will create
at least 13 million new jobs.

In a way, Trump is fulfilling
his campaign promise:

he is creating millions of new jobs,
he's doing it for the wrong country.

If you want proof
that the jobs of today and tomorrow

are in renewable energy, France's
new president, Emanuel Macron,

issued a call this week
to America's workforce.

To all scientists, engineers,
entrepreneurs, responsible citizens

who were disappointed by the decision
of the President of the United States,

I want to say that they will find
in France a second homeland.

I call on them,
come and work here with us.

I guess what he's saying there
is "be...our...guest !"

Be our guest !
Put our service to the test !

Tie a napkin 'round your neck...
We don't have time for this.

I'm sorry, Lumiere.
I'm sorry, Mrs. Potts.

I'm sorry, Cogsworth.
You gotta go !

Quick, this is my fault. Get the fuck
out of here, you little fuckers !

The real concern here

is that America's absence
from the Paris Agreement

could make other countries less
inclined to meet their commitments.

That could quickly
become catastrophic.

That brings us to our final point:
given that we cannot afford

to just wait four years to vote Trump
out of office, what can be done now ?

For starters, companies
need to continue to step up.

And to their credit, some like
Walmart and Bank of America

have set deadlines to power themselves
completely with renewable energy.

Nearly half of Fortune 500 companies,
including Philip Morris International

have pledged to reduce their
carbon footprint in the coming years.

This is a story where Walmart,
Bank of America and Philip Morris

end up being the good guys.

Which feels inherently surprising.

It's like I just said:
"Great news, everyone: Ebola, ISIS,"

"that dentist who shot Cecil the Lion
are gonna save the planet for us !"

Thanks, guys ! You're the best !
You are the best !

It is not just companies
stepping up.

In the wake of Trump's decision,
multiple governors have announced

their intention to hold themselves
to the Paris Agreement goals.

As have many mayors, including,
notably, the mayor of Pittsburgh,

the city that Trump cited as the reason
he was pulling out of the agreement.

Their mayor, Bill Peduto,
was pretty clear

about what he thinks
about Trump's decision.

Pittsburgh is the poster child
of showing why the Paris Agreement

is good economics
for the United States,

and what we did today
sets us back decades.

That is pleasantly surprising
on so many levels.

Not the least of which is,
I had always just assumed

that Pittsburgh's mayor was a Heinz
ketchup-drenched Lombardi trophy.

So we're all learning
a lot of things tonight.

This means that the onus is on
politicians at the state-local level

to do what Donald Trump
cannot be bothered to.

And unfortunately, that means
that you now need to find out

where your mayor, your governor,
and even your state reps stand

on climate change.

And first, you'll have
to find out who they are,

but then you will need
to find out their positions.

And maybe you'll get lucky,
maybe yours is great.

Or maybe you live in Pennsylvania,

and you're represented
by State Senator Scott Wagner,

who has an interesting theory for
what might be causing global warming.

The Earth moves closer to the Sun
every year. We have more people.

Humans have warm bodies,
so is heat coming off ?

We're going
through a lot of change,

but we are, as a society,
doing the best we can.

I don't even know
where to begin there.

I mean, yes, the Earth does move
closer to the sun every year.

But then it moves
further away from the sun.

Because that is
what a fucking year is.

Our body heat
is not warming the planet.

And we are clearly
not doing the best we can,

because we keep putting idiots like
Scott Wagner in positions of power !

And he is not alone.
In North Carolina,

they're considering a bill
that would freeze progress

that that state has made
towards renewable energy

and one of the people
who would have a vote on that

is State Rep. Larry Pittman.

So, what is Larry's
nuanced take on climate ?

Our climate runs on a cycle.

It goes up and it goes down
and the Lord designed it that way.

And the main thing
that causes global warning

is the Earth's relationship
to a big ball of gas

that's burning out there,
that we call the sun.

And it is the height of hubris
for human beings

to think that we can have
any effect on that.

No, Larry, no.

The height of hubris is not opposing
climate change against God's will.

The height of hubris is,
according to Wikipedia,

six-foot-two, and he just pulled
us out of the Paris Agreement.

If your local reps resemble
those guys in any way, you are going,

you're gonna need to work to get
them out of office as soon as you can.

And all of this is going to take work,
attention, and energy.

And I know that's not easy.

But Trump may have inadvertently
done us a tiny favor this week:

the problem with climate change
is that it's always felt so abstract,

and far off into the future.

The usual symbols that we use
don't do much to fix or help that

it's either a graph
that's difficult to understand,

or a sad polar bear
on a small piece of ice.

And it's hard to get emotionally
fired up over that.

I don't even know that bear.
He could be a dick.

But, finally, this week,
the climate change movement

may have gotten
a symbol to rally around.

Because apparently,
it was never quite enough for us

to motivate ourselves out of love
for this large, gassy orb.

But maybe, just maybe,
we can now motivate ourselves

to do something
out of our loathing of this one.

And now, this.

And now,
still more 60 Minutes anchors

prompting people to give them
the exact sound bites they need.

We're gonna put $456 million
to go to an island of 50 people ?

The bridge to nowhere.

Each person has a purpose.

24 hours a day.

- You got greedy.
- I got greedy.

Bribes and threats.


Covering up tests.

Fake urine.

You name it.

That's basically what happened.

Car's in charge.

It's locked.

- This is a private home ?
- Yes.

- We're guinea pigs.
- Yes.

That's an occupational hazard.

Genuine fake
extra virgin olive oil.

You admit that you participated

in a system that just willy-nilly
jacked prices way up.

- I said anything about willy-nilly ?
- I'm saying willy-nilly.

I'm not saying that !

Thank you so much for watching.
See you next week. Good night !