24 April 2019
US President Donald Trump said his country will withdraw from the Paris accord because  "we don't want other leaders and other countries laughing at us any more – and they won't be".  Photo: Reuters
US President Donald Trump said his country will withdraw from the Paris accord because "we don't want other leaders and other countries laughing at us any more – and they won't be". Photo: Reuters

Trump says US to quit Paris climate pact, allies voice dismay

US President Donald Trump said he will withdraw his country from the landmark 2015 global agreement to fight climate change, spurning pleas from allies and corporate leaders in an action that fulfilled a major campaign pledge.

Supporters of the accord condemned Trump’s move as an abdication of American leadership, an international disgrace and a monumental foreign policy blunder, Reuters reports.

His predecessor, Barack Obama, expressed regret over the pullout from a deal he was instrumental in brokering.

“We’re getting out,” Trump said at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden in which he decried the Paris accord’s “draconian” financial and economic burdens.

He said American withdrawal “represents a reassertion of American sovereignty”.

Trump said the United States 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”.

US allies voiced dismay over Trump’s move, and France, Germany and Italy dismissed his suggestion that the global pact could be revised.

Under the terms of the Paris accord, Bloomberg News said, Trump must wait until November 2019 to formally submit his intention to withdraw.

At that point, the US enters a one-year waiting period before it’s formally removed. The decision could be reversed by the next president – or even Trump himself, the financial information provider said.

As a result, the issue is likely to dominate the 2020 presidential election campaign.

With Trump’s action, the US will walk away from nearly every nation in the world on one of the pressing global issues of the 21st century. The pullout will align America with Syria and Nicaragua as the world’s only non-participants in the accord, Reuters said.

US to stop payments to Green Climate Fund

Trump said the US would cease payments to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund, in which rich countries committed billions of dollars to help developing countries deal with floods, droughts and other impacts from climate change.

The US was one of 195 nations that agreed to the accord in Paris in December 2015.

But Trump said the accord would “undermine our economy, hamstring our workers, weaken our sovereignty, impose unacceptable legal risk, and put us 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 added as he tapped into the “America First” message he used when he was elected president last year.

Under the pact, which was years in the making, nations both rich and poor committed to reducing emissions of so-called greenhouse gases generated by burning fossils fuels and blamed by scientists for warming the planet.

“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” the Republican president said.

The Paris deal called for every country to set its own targets for cutting emissions.

China promised its emissions would peak by 2030, while India said it would reduce the amount of carbon emitted for every dollar of economic output, but its emissions would continue to increase, Bloomberg said.

Those targets are less ambitious than the US commitment, which called for cutting emissions 26 percent or more compared with 2005 levels.

The US, exceeded only by China in greenhouse gas emissions, accounts for more than 15 percent of the worldwide total.

But India and China contended that their economies, which are less developed than the US, are not yet ready to cut emissions in absolute terms.

Obama: US states, businesses to lead way

Obama, a Democrat, said in a statement that the nations that remain in the agreement will be the ones that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created.

“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.

Tesla Inc. chief executive Elon Musk said he will leave White House advisory councils after Trump’s move.

“Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world,” Musk said in a Twitter post.

General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt said he was disappointed, adding, “Climate change is real. Industry must now lead and not depend on government.”

Reuters said virtually every nation voluntarily committed to steps aimed at curbing global emissions of “greenhouse” gases such as carbon dioxide generated from burning of fossil fuels.

Leading climate scientists say the emissions trap heat in the atmosphere and have caused a warming planet, sea level rise, droughts and more frequent violent storms.

Last year was the warmest since records began in the 19th century, as global average temperatures continued a rise dating back decades that scientists attribute to greenhouse gases.

They warned that US withdrawal from the deal could speed up the effects of global climate change, worsening heat waves, floods, droughts and storms.

China, EU commit to full implementation of accord

China and the European Union will seek on Friday to buttress the Paris agreement, with Li meeting top EU officials in Brussels.

In a statement backed by all 28 EU states, the EU and China were poised to commit to full implementation of the agreement, officials said.

Miguel Arias Canete, the EU’s energy commissioner, said in a statement after Trump’s announcement that the European Union deeply regretted the decision but would seek new allies in the fight against climate change.

“We see the Paris Agreement and the low-carbon transition for what it is, the irreversible growth engine of our economies and the key to protecting our planet,” Canete said.

Trump has already moved to dismantle Obama-era climate change regulations, including the US Clean Power Plan aimed at reducing emissions from main coal-fired power plants.

Oil majors Shell and ExxonMobil Corp. supported the Paris pact. Several big coal companies, including Cloud Peak Energy, had publicly urged Trump to stay in the deal as a way to help protect the industry’s mining interests overseas, though others asked Trump to exit the accord to help ease regulatory pressures on domestic miners.

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