President Donald Trump made good on another campaign promise to withdraw from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, which his predecessor President Barack Obama had joined along with the leaders of 195 other countries. The accord requires all participating nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to limit the rise of global temperatures over the ensuing century and also to allocate resources for the research and development of alternative energy sources. With President Trump’s decision, the United States joined Syria and Nicaragua as the only three countries to reject the accord.
“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,” President Trump said in a speech from the White House Rose Garden. "We're getting out. And we will start to renegotiate and we'll see if there's a better deal. If we can, great. If we can't, that's fine.”
The president supported his decision, which he called “a reassertion of America’s sovereignty,” by saying the agreement was economically unfair to the United States. ”The agreement doesn't eliminate coal jobs, it just transfers those jobs out of the United States and ships them to foreign countries," President Trump said. "This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States."
“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” he added, striking a nationalistic tone that emphasized he was putting "America first" by withdrawing from the global agreement.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, a Democrat, quickly responded on Twitter, tweeting his support of the agreement: “As the Mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy & future.”
A group of 88 U.S. mayors, known as The Climate Mayors, also vowed to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement, while various governors from states including California, New York and Washington announced the formation of the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition that will uphold the agreement and “take aggressive action on climate change.” City buildings and landmarks around the U.S. and the world were lit up in green to show support for the agreement.
German chancellor Angela Merkel, French president Emmanuel Macron and Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni also released a joint statement, rejecting Trump’s suggestion to renegotiate: “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.”
China, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, also joined with the European Union nations in support of the Paris agreement. A spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry told reporters: "We think the Paris accord reflects the widest agreement of the international community with regards to climate change, and parties should cherish this hard-won outcome."
Environmental advocates around the world reacted with outrage, asserting that the U.S. withdrawal from the agreement will significantly weaken global efforts to combat climate change, while American business leaders also expressed concern that it would negatively impact the economy. Various CEOs of major companies took out ads in the New York Times and Washington Post to communicate to the president their support of the agreement. After President Trump's announcement, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, and Disney CEO Bob Iger stepped down from the White House's advisory business councils.
Former president Barack Obama also responded in a statement: “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.”
However, Trump supporters applauded his decision, including Scott Pruitt, the administration's Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, who said in a a speech following the president's announcement: “America finally has a leader who answers only to the people — not the special interests who have had their way for much too long. In everything you do, you are fighting for the forgotten men and women of America. You are the champion for hardworking citizens all across this land who just want a government that puts their needs first."