President Donald Trump will withdraw the US from the landmark 2015 global agreement to fight climate change, a move that’s fulfilled a major campaign pledge but drawn condemnation from US allies and business leaders.
Trump, tapping into the “America First” message he used when he was elected president last year, said the Paris accord would undermine the US economy, cost US jobs, weaken American national sovereignty and put the country at a permanent disadvantage to the other countries of the world.
“We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us any more. And they won’t be,” Trump said.
“The same nations asking us to stay in the agreement are the countries that have collectively cost America trillions of dollars through tough trade practices and in many cases lax contributions to our critical military alliance,” Trump added.
Supporters of the accord, including some leading US business figures, called Trump’s move a blow to international efforts to curb the warming of the planet that threatens far-reaching consequences for this century and beyond. Former Democratic President Barack Obama expressed regret over the pullout from a deal he was instrumental in brokering.
“But even in the absence of American leadership; even as this administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got,” Obama added.
“Today’s decision is a setback for the environment and for the US’s leadership position in the world,” Goldman Sachs Group Inc Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein wrote on Twitter.
Trump, who has called climate change a hoax, said his administration would begin negotiations either to re-enter the Paris accord or to have a new agreement “on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers”. He complained in particular about China’s terms under the agreement.
International leaders including the pope had pressed Trump not follow through on an election campaign promise to abandon the accord, and they lamented his decision.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said in a rare joint statement the agreement could not be renegotiated and urged their allies to hasten efforts to combat climate change. They pledged to do more to help developing countries adapt.
“While the US decision is disheartening, we remain inspired by the growing momentum around the world to combat climate change and transition to clean growth economies,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
China’s state news agency Xinhua published a commentary on Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris accord, describing it as a “global setback”.
China overtook the United States as the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in 2007.
With Trump’s action, the United States will walk away from nearly every other nation in the world on one of the pressing global issues of the 21st century. Syria and Nicaragua are the only other non-participants in the accord.
The United States was one of 195 nations that agreed to the accord in Paris in December 2015. Under the pact, which was years in the making, countries both rich and poor committed to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases generated by burning fossils fuels and blamed by scientists for warming the planet.