Donald Trump withdraws US from Paris climate accord

Withdrawal from 2016 agreement, in line with president’s election campaign promise, could take up to four years.

Trump climate deal withdrawal
Trump has prepared Republican legislators for expected blowback [AP]

The US is withdrawing from the Paris agreement on climate change, President Donald Trump has announced at a White House Rose Garden speech.

Before the announcement, Trump informed Congress about his decision preparing Republican legislators with arguments and lines to take in the face of an expected blowback.

Trump said it was his solemn duty to protect “America and its citizens” and that the US would “withdraw from the Paris climate accord, but begin negotiations to re-enter the Paris accord or a new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States”.

He said: “So we are getting out, but we will start to negotiate and see if we can make a deal that’s fair.”

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Trump described the Paris climate accord as an “agreement that is disadvantageous to the US to the exclusive benefits of other countries”.

The withdrawal also includes the cancellation of all US contributions to the Green Climate Fund, which Trump said was “costing the US a vast fortune”.

According to the rules of the 2016 Paris deal, stepping out of its provisions will be a lengthy process that could take up to four years.

Trump said he could not “in good conscience support a deal that punishes the US and that poses no punishment for the world’s great polluters”.

‘Trillions of dollars’

Trump claimed “the nations asking us to stay in the agreement are the same nations that cost America trillions of dollars through unfair trade agreements, and the same that do not contribute to military alliances.

“At what point do they start laughing at us? […] I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not the citizens of Paris,” he said.

US coal company shares dipped alongside renewable energy stocks on Wednesday after reports that Trump plans to pull the US from a global accord on fighting climate change.

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The market reaction reflects concerns, raised by some coal companies in recent months, that a US exit from the Paris Climate Agreement could unleash a global backlash against coal interests outside the US.

Barack Obama criticised Trump on Thursday for pulling out of the Paris climate deal, warning that the move would see the US “reject the future”.

“The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created,” Obama warned in a statement.

Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president, on Thursday rejected as “seriously wrong” Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate deal.

In Germany, a statement issued by seven Social Democratic ministers in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s left-right coalition government said the US “is harming itself, we Europeans and all the people of the world”.

German ministers claim “the land of the free and the home of the brave is contradicting its basic principles”.

The statement also states that the door will be kept open for the US to join at a later date as the “global community must stick together now”.

‘Deeply disappointed’

Catherine McKenna, Canadian environment minister, said her country is “deeply disappointed by the US decision on the Paris accord”.

And Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo says US decision to pull out of the climate accord “is a mistake with dramatic consequences”.

The US withdrawal from the accord fulfils one of Trump’s major campaign promises, and is in line with the America First policy he laid out before being elected president.

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Earlier on Thursday, China said it would keep up its end of the Paris climate change accord, even if the US pulls out from the agreement.

Li Keqiang, China’s prime minister, said his country will continue to work with the EU and other countries to uphold the deal.

Speaking after bilateral talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Li said it was “also in our interest … to work step by step towards sustainable development” and environmental protection together with the international community.

Continental Europe’s three biggest economies – Germany, France and Italy – criticised Donald Trump’s decision to quit the Paris climate agreement and said the pact was “not renegotiable”. 

“We note the United States’ decision with regret,” the three countries said in a rare joint statement.

“We are firmly convinced that the agreement cannot be renegotiated,” they added, referring to Trump’s announcement that Washington was open to negotiating a new agreement.

And the mayor of Pittsburgh tweeted that the city will follow the guidelines of the Paris accord “for our people, our economy [and] future”.

President Trump also lost the support of a top billionaire business leader.

Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, wrote on Twitter that he is “departing presidential councils”, something he had vowed to do if Trump took this step. Musk writes: “Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.”

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies