Trump pulls out of global climate change pact

Trump: "I was elected to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris"

Kevin Lamarque—Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump announces his decision that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump announced from the White House Rose Garden on Thursday that he has decided to pull the United States out of a global pact to fight climate change.”In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect the people of the United States, the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris Accord or an entirely new transaction on grounds that are more fair to the United States,” Trump said to applause from the audience gathered on the White House lawn.Trump’s speech announcing the withdrawal focused on the impact of the deal on the United States versus the other nations in it. He said that by 2040, compliance with the commitments put into place by the Obama Administration through the accord would cost close to $3 trillion in lost gross domestic product and millions of jobs. He also announced that the U.S. would no longer put a promised $1 billion into the Green Climate Fund, an international fund that pays developing countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions through aid and energy support. “America is $20 trillion in debt, millions of citizens are out of work, yet under the Paris Accord millions of U.S. dollars that ought to be invested right here are going to countries that have taken our factories,” said Trump.Last week, 22 senators including Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent a letter urging the president to withdraw from the pact. The letter argued that environmentalists could use the deal, signed by former President Barack Obama, as a legal defense in lawsuits advocating for more severe federal regulations such as the Clean Power Plan and Waters of the U.S. rules. It also assured the president that the U.S. would still be able to influence environmental policy. “We understand that some officials inside your Administration want to remain in the Paris Agreement to keep a seat at the table so that the U.S. continues to have a voice in future discussions,” the letter read. “Fortunately, a clean exit from the Paris Agreement will not take this away. The Senate gave its consent to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992; this treaty provides a permanent seat at the table for the United States to engage with other countries each year at the Conferences of Parties (COP). In fact, it was through an annual COP meeting in Paris that the Paris Agreement was signed.”Trump reportedly told advisers over the Memorial Day weekend of his intentions to withdraw from the pact, working out terms with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. Trump says the decision sends a clear message. “Our withdrawal from the agreement represents a reassertion of Americas sovereignty,” said Trump.”Exiting the agreement protects the us from future intrusions on our sovereignty and future liabilities… This agreement hamstrings our workers, weakens our sovereignty, and exposes us to legal risk,” he added.At the N.C. General Assembly, Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Hendersonville), former national president of the Sierra Club, said he was not surprised in the announcement because it was among Trump’s campaign promises, but said he was disappointed.”I disagree with the policy decision, and I’m disappointed that the administration again takes a position that conflicts with the positions of most of our traditional allies,” said McGrady.”I’m very disappointed,” echoed Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Greensboro). “This has been a 20-plus year effort to try and get the world on board to do something about greenhouse gas emissions… I don’t think this is a good business move, I think it’s bad for the planet, it’s bad for public health, it’s bad for the economy.”However Rep. Chris Millis (R-Onslow) agreed with the decision. “In order to even attempt to comply with its requirements would have meant severely curtailing our economic growth by hamstringing our burgeoning energy development, while our international competitors such as India and China would continue to develop their fossil fueled projects without accountability,” said Millis. “At the same time the Paris agreement would have asked America to continue massive wealth transfers to developing nations and tin-pot dictatorships via various ‘green’ schemes and funds, in addition to the ongoing subsidizing of inefficient and costly renewable energy such as wind and solar.”Trump adviser and billionaire Tesla Inc. CEO, Elon Musk, said he “did all he could do” and announced that he is leaving a White House advisory council in light of the president’s decision. Likewise, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, a senior Vatican official, told the Rome newspaper La Repubblica that a withdrawal would be a “a huge slap in the face” to Pope Francis, who has strongly backed the accord.After the president and first lady met with the pope late last month, Francis gave Trump a signed copy of his 2015 encyclical letter calling for protecting the environment from the effects of climate change and backed scientific evidence that it is caused by human activity.The Paris Accord was the first legally binding global deal to fight climate change. With varying obligations, 195 countries voluntarily committed to steps aimed at curbing global emissions of “greenhouse” gases. These include carbon dioxide generated from burning of fossil fuels that scientists blame for a warming planet, sea-level rise, droughts, and more frequent violent storms.”That incredible diplomatic achievement could not have been secured without the decisive role of the United States of America,” said the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. “That is why President Trump is committing a mistake with dramatic and fatal consequences.” But Trump and his allies have remained adamant that the pact puts unnecessary and unfair pressure on America and its businesses, saying that the very countries urging the U.S. to stay in the deal benefit from the regulations that “hamstring” American energy production. “This accord is less about climate and more about giving other countries an economic advantage over the United States,” Trump said. “While the Paris Accord blocks the development of clean coal in the United States, China will be allowed to build hundreds of additional plants, India will be able to double their coal production, even Europe is allowed to continue construction of coal plants… It transfers those coal jobs from the United States to foreign countries,” he added.During the campaign, Trump said the accord would cost the U.S. economy trillions of dollars with no tangible benefit. Trump has expressed doubts about climate change in the past; however, he did not mention the validity of climate change in his speech Thursday, pressing instead to renegotiate the Paris Accord or replace it with another deal. “I am willing to immediately work with Democrat leaders to negotiate back into the accord or an entirely new deal that is fair to the United States,” said Trump. “Make them non-obstructionists — we will get back into the deal and make it a better deal. Until we do that we are out of the agreement… We want to make sure the U.S. is a leader in a new deal where the burden is equally shared among the nations all around the world.”