Trump pulls United States out of Paris climate agreement

President Donald Trump, speaking in the Rose Garden of the White House, announced the United States will pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate. | Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate change agreement, a global plan to limit temperature increases on the planet.

Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, Trump said he would attempt to “begin negotiations to re-renter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction,” but for now would “cease all implementation” of the deal, which he called “only the latest example of an agreement that disadvantages the United States” and which he said would have meant “lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories and vastly diminished” production.

The U.S. — a top carbon polluting nation — finalized its part of the Paris Climate Accord agreement last year, a legacy item for former President Barack Obama. Obama issued a statement strongly condemning Trump’s move.

Trump in his comments framed the withdrawal as a way to boost U.S. job growth.

Trump said the Paris deal was “only a starting point, not an end point” and insisted a better deal could be reached.

It was “time to pursue a new deal that protects the environment, our citizens, our companies and our country,” he said.

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But of the current deal, “believe me, this is not what we need,” Trump said. “As someone who cares deeply about the environment, which I do, I cannot in good conscience support a deal that punishes the United States, which it does.”

The deal has no meaningful restraints on some of the world’s biggest polluters, such as China, he said.

“The agreement is a massive redistribution of wealth from the United States to other countries,” he said. “We won’t have other countries laughing at us any more.”

Under Obama, the U.S. ratified the multinational plan overseen by the United Nations in 2016, created to forge, for the first time, a unified approach by the 197 parties signing the pact to combat global warming.

Obama, in his statement, said it’s not an either/or choice, when it comes to the environment and the economy. “Simply put, the private sector already chose a low-carbon future. And for the nations that committed themselves to that future, the Paris Agreement opened the floodgates for businesses, scientists, and engineers to unleash high-tech, low-carbon investment and innovation on an unprecedented scale.

“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. 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 said.

Though Trump during the presidential campaign pledged to withdraw from the agreement he has said he has been listening to advocates for staying in the deal, including GOP-allied business leaders in the U.S. and Pope Francis.

“I promised to revisit any trade deal that did not put our interests first. … Very rarely to we have a deal that works for this country,” Trump said Thursday.

The accord would reduce dependency on fossil fuels. Trump also made campaign pledges to revitalize the coal industry in the U.S.

He pledged to have “the cleanest air, the cleanest water” — but not at the expense of U.S. jobs.

Before Trump spoke, Vice President Mike Pence said — without revealing what Trump was about to announce — that the president has decided “to put American jobs and consumers first … to put the forgotten men and women of America first.”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said in a statement, “Climate change is one of the gravest environmental, economic and national security threats of our time, and we’re already experiencing its devastating effects in Illinois and across the country. Our military leaders have long understood that increased famine and drought caused by climate change is contributing to political instability across the globe — but it seems that our President does not.

“Instead of leading the way towards a more sustainable future, he is prepared to retreat from our global responsibilities and deliver yet another a self-inflicted blow to America’s credibility on the world stage by having our country join Syria and Nicaragua as the only three countries not party to this agreement. While the rest of the world moves forward with trillions of dollars of investments in clean energy jobs and technologies, America is losing its influence and our economy is being left behind.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, even before the announcement, issued a statement criticizing Trump and assuming, as had been widely reported, that the United States was pulling out:

“The President’s decision to pull out of the Paris Accord is a poor attempt to pit environmental protection and economic growth against each other. It’s a false choice. Chicago has proven you can create jobs while reducing your carbon footprint, and we will continue to do both. As the Trump administration pulls back we will push forward and reduce our fair share of carbon emissions in line with the Paris Accord. The world is depending on cities in the US to take up the mantle of leadership on climate change. Chicago will happily accept that challenge.”

Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., said in a statement, “History will judge harshly President Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from the international Paris Agreement on climate change. This ill-conceived decision weakens America’s global leadership, slows our transition to renewable sources of energy, and makes it more likely the green energy jobs of tomorrow will be created in other countries rather than here at home.

“Climate change is a real and present threat to our future. America can and should be the global leader in developing innovative solutions, but the President’s decision today will leave us in the rear.

“Irrespective of President Trump’s short-sighted policies, I’ll continue to seek solutions and to work with like-minded leaders to protect our planet and ensure a more sustainable future for the next generation,” Schneider said.

Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., said in a statement, “By abdicating our long-held position of international leadership, President Trump has opened the door to a new era of American foreign policy, one in which the terms of international discussions and negotiations are set by others. Additionally, in making this shortsighted decision, the President predictably caved to the will of ideologues who have prioritized politics over clean water, clean air, and a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren. These misguided priorities will not make America great.

“Make no mistake, President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement will cost lives here at home and around the world; it will condemn vulnerable plants and animal species to extinction; it will weaken our economic competitiveness in the global marketplace; and it will risk American national security as climate change multiplies threats and conflicts abroad. Ironically enough, I’m seeing these impacts firsthand as I tour Rocky Mountain National Park at the time of this announcement.

“The overwhelming majority of Americans, as well as our biggest businesses, support America’s participation in the Paris Agreement and understand what it means for our nation’s continued success. It is now on every American to do their part and show the rest of the world that we stand with them in our commitment to winning this fight. The consequences of losing it are far too dire.”

Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., said in a statement, “We are called to be good stewards of the environment, properly using our natural resources for the benefit of humanity and the planet. America has long led the world in developing new, cleaner technologies that protect the environment and help create jobs—regardless of government mandates or country agreements. That tradition of leading in energy innovation and reduction in emissions will continue. This agreement should have required Senate ratification. I look forward to the President continuing to negotiate foreign policy that puts America first and brings treaties before Congress.

“In Congress, I will continue encouraging energy solutions that promote good stewardship of the environment, provide Americans with true options and bring jobs back to the United States. Innovation, not regulation, remains the answer for lower emissions. I will continue supporting our national labs like Argonne that are making energy storage a realistic solution for bringing intermittent renewables online in a modern energy system.”

Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., said in a statement, “The United States, the world’s largest economy and second-largest greenhouse gas polluter, would not dissolve the 195-nation pact with the decision to pullout out. However, the action sets off a chain of events that would have profound effects on the planet. The Paris Climate Accord is an historic international agreement that brought the world together to put a halt to increasing global emissions and address the real effects of climate change.

“The president’s decision puts the U.S. at odds with nearly every other nation on earth. In walking away from this agreement, the President is denying scientific truths, removing safeguards that protect our health and our environment.

“The Paris Accord respects our global responsibility to make our planet habitable for future generations. This agreement will inspire future generations to care for our planet collectively and work cohesively with other nations. Cutting carbon pollution is of critical importance in bringing cleaner, more reliable energy to Americans and people around the world. This commitment to protecting our environment could not only cut pollution, but also save families money on their energy bills in the future.”

Details about the Paris pact from the United Nations can be found here.

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