President Donald Trump said Thursday that he will make good on a top campaign promise by withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, a global pact to combat global warming.
“One by one we are keeping the promises I made during my run for president,” Trump said. “And believe me, we’ve just begun.”
But Trump quickly said he would immediately begin to negotiate reentering the deal – supported by more than 190 nations – but only if it doesn’t harm the American economy.
“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States,” Trump said.
That offer was quickly rejected by the leaders of France, Germany and Italy, who said in a statement that the accord can’t be revised.
“We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris agreement cannot be renegotiated since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies,” they said in a joint statement.
Trump’s long-awaited decision – announced in a half-hour speech in a Rose Garden ceremony that included a military band – followed an intense debate within his administration about which direction to move.
His daughter, Ivanka, a top adviser, as well as leaders of other nations and business executives all lobbied Trump to stay in the agreement, which was approved by Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. But some of his closest advisers, including Steve Bannon, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and conservative groups had been pushing him to leave.
“The Paris Agreement opened the floodgates for businesses, scientists and engineers to unleash high-tech, low-carbon investment and innovation on an unprecedented scale,” Obama said in a statement. “The nations that remain in the Paris agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created.”
The Paris pact obligates the United States – the world’s second largest emitter of planet-warming greenhouse gasses – to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025, compared to 2005 levels. The aim of the pact is to prevent global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, a level that scientists say could cause irreversible, catastrophic impacts.
Trump already has rolled back some of Obama’s climate actions, but the pieces of the Paris agreement won’t be finished until November 2020, the same month Trump would stand for re-election.
In his remarks, Trump said staying in the pact would cost the United States jobs and revenue, citing a study that shows the U.S. would lose 2.7 million jobs by 2025.
“The Paris agreement handicaps the United States economy in order to win praise from the very foreign capitals and global activists that have long sought to gain wealth at our country’s expense,” Trump said. “They don’t put America first. I do, and I always will.”
White House officials justified the decision by saying that the United States should not enter or remain in any agreement that harms U.S. workers and businesses – especially one that would “barely impact the climate.”
They argued that the Paris accord could cost the United States economy 6.5 million jobs in the industrial sector, including 3.1 million manufacturing jobs by 2040.
Senior White House officials refused to answer questions about whether Trump believes that human beings are responsible for climate change. Trump himself said he cared about the environment, but that he cannot “in good conscience support a deal that punishes the United States” – the world’s leader in environmental protection – “while imposing no meaningful obligations on the world’s leading polluters.”
“This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States,” Trump said. “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, very big economic disadvantage.”
He cited as an example China, whose carbon emissions are not due to begin to decline until 2030.
The White House sent lawmakers on Capitol Hill talking points before his speech. Those points accused the Obama administration of negotiating the pact “poorly” and said it had been signed “out of desperation.”
“It frontloads costs on the American people to the detriment of our economy and job growth while extracting meaningless commitments from the world’s top global emitters, like China,” the talking points said. “The U.S. is already leading the world in energy production and doesn’t need a bad deal that will harm American workers.”
Republicans and conservative groups cheered the decision.
“The Paris climate agreement was simply a raw deal for America,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. “Signed by President Obama without Senate ratification, it would have driven up the cost of energy, hitting middle-class and low-income Americans the hardest.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., offered a similar assessment. “By withdrawing from this unattainable mandate, President Trump has reiterated his commitment to protecting middle class families across the country and workers throughout coal country from higher energy prices and potential job loss,” he said in a statement.
But Democrats and environmental groups said Trump was risking the Earth’s future.
“This decision shows a stunning disregard for the well-being of people and the planet,” said Andrew Steer, president & CEO of the World Resources Institute. “President Trump will now have to answer for walking away from one of the most hard-fought and popular global achievements in recent memory.”
“We can all agree that all people should be able to breathe clean air and live in a safe and healthy environment,” said Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. “Pulling out of the Paris agreement is an irrational decision that is a disastrous step backward, threatens the future viability of our planet for future generations, and abdicates our role of leadership.”
Lesley Clark, Stuart Leavenworth and Lindsay Wise contributed.
TRUMP’S TALKING POINTS ON PARIS ACCORD
Would cost the U.S. economy nearly $3 trillion over next several decades.
U.S. economy would lose 6.5 million industrial sector jobs by 2040, including 3.1 million manufacturing jobs
Imposes unrealistic targets on U.S. for carbon emissions, but gives China a free pass, allowing ti to increase emissions until 2030.
U.S. has already reduced its carbon-dioxide emissions 12 percent since 2006.
Green Climate Fund transfers wealth from the United States to other nations.
Source: White House