President Donald Trump on Friday declared that the US will withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate accord, saying the “draconian” deal unfairly punished America but benefited countries like India and China, drawing strong condemnation from across the world.
“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” Trump said, immediately triggering global condemnation on the move by the world’s second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses.
“As president, I have one obligation, and that obligation is to the American people. The Paris Accord would undermine our economy, hamstring our workers, weaken our sovereignty, impose unacceptable legal risks, and put us at a permanent disadvantage to the other countries of the world,” he said from the Rose Garden at the White House.
“It is time to exit the Paris Accord and time to pursue a new deal that protects the environment, our companies, our citizens, and our country,” Trump said while announcing the sweeping step that fulfils a campaign promise while acutely dampening global efforts to curb global warming.
“We’re getting out,” he said. “And we will start to renegotiate and we’ll see if there’s a better deal. If we can, great. If we can’t, that’s fine.”
The Paris agreement commits the US and other countries to keeping rising global temperatures “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels and “endeavour to limit” them even more, to 1.5C. Only Syria and Nicaragua did not sign up to the deal.
The president said he made the decision as the Paris deal was unfair to the US and badly hit businesses and jobs.
He said India would get billions of dollars for meeting its commitment under the Paris agreement and it - along with China - would double its coal-fired power plants in the years to come, gaining a financial advantage over the US.
“Not only does this deal subject our citizens to harsh economic restrictions, it fails to live up to our environmental ideals,” Trump said.
“I cannot in good conscience support a deal that punishes the United States - which is what it does? the world’s leader in environmental protection, while imposing no meaningful obligations on the world’s leading polluters,” he said.
He then cited the example of China and said that under the agreement, the Communist giant will be able to increase these emissions by a staggering number of years - 13.
“They can do whatever they want for 13 years. Not us,” Trump said.
“India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries. There are many other examples. But the bottom line is that the Paris accord is very unfair, at the highest level, to the United States, Trump said.
Trump’s decision drew widespread condemnation from entrepreneurs, politicians, world leaders and environmentalist for abandoning the single most important international effort to curb global warming.
The Paris Climate Agreement is a historic treaty signed by over 190 nations and cannot be renegotiated on the request of a single nation, the United Nations’s Framework Convention on Climate Change has said.
The UNFCCC, under which the landmark Paris agreement was negotiated and adopted, said it “regrets” the announcement by President Trump that his government will withdraw from the agreement.
The leaders of France, Italy and Germany indicated in a joint statement that the US could not unilaterally renegotiate the agreement.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Trump had made a historic error by abandoning the Paris agreement.
Trump has “committed an error for the interests of his country and a mistake for the future of our planet,” Macron said, adding: “The United States has turned its back on the world.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel today vowed “more decisive action than ever” to protect the climate after the US pullout from the landmark Paris accord.
“We in Germany, in Europe and the world will band together to take more decisive action than ever to confront and successfully surmount major challenges to humanity such as climate change,” she told reporters.
Former US President Barack Obama and other political leaders today slammed Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the historic deal, saying he has squandered America’s global leadership and put the country with “a small handful of nations that reject the future.”
“The nations that remain in the Paris agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created. I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack,” Obama said in a statement.
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said pulling out of the deal was “abandoning America’s leadership in the fight against the climate crisis.”
“If President Trump wants nations like China and India to take stronger and swifter action on climate, then he should do so through the accountability and enforcement provisions in the Paris agreement, not by breaking our word and storming out of the room,” Pelosi said.
Tesla founder Elon Musk said he would quit White House advisory councils on business in protest. “(I) am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world,” Musk wrote on Twitter.
The much-anticipated decision was a culmination of one Trump’s most prominent election promises as he struggles to set aside the distractions caused by accusations of his campaign’s ties with Russia in his first 100 days in office. He has previously called climate change a “hoax”.
But Trump said he was fighting for American businesses and American workers.
“I am fighting every day for the great people of this country. Therefore, in order to fulfil my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the US will withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” he said, and vowed to stand with Americans against “draconian” international deal.
Trump, however, said he will stick to the process laid out in the Paris agreement - which could take the US four years to leave the deal coinciding with the next presidential election, meaning Americans could have the final word on the decision.
The Trump administration said he had made phone calls to the leaders of France, the UK, Canada and Germany to explain his decision. He had shrugged off pressure from them during the recent G7 summit in Sicily continue with the agreement.
Trump also said “not only does this deal subject our citizens to harsh economic restrictions, it fails to live up to our environmental ideals.”
In short, according to him, this agreement was “less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States.”