DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (AP) — President Donald Trump said Thursday he was withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, striking a major blow to worldwide efforts to combat climate change and distancing the country from many allies abroad. He said the U.S. would try to negotiate re-entry on better terms.
“As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the nonbinding Paris accord,” Trump said during a White House Rose Garden announcement. Suggesting renegotiating re-entry was not a major priority, he said, “If we can, great. If we can’t, that’s fine.”
By abandoning the world’s chief effort to slow the tide of planetary warming, Trump was fulfilling a top campaign pledge. But he was also breaking from many of America’s staunches allies, who have expressed alarm about the decision.
Under former President Barack Obama, the U.S. had agreed to reduce emissions to 26 percent to 28 percent of 2005 levels by 2025 — about 1.6 billion tons.
But Trump said the agreement disadvantaged the U.S. “to the exclusive benefit of other countries,” leaving American businesses and taxpayers to absorb the cost.
Scientists say Earth is likely to reach more dangerous levels of warming sooner as a result of the president’s decision because America contributes so much to rising temperatures. Calculations suggest withdrawal could result in emissions of up to 3 billion tons of additional carbon dioxide in the air a year — enough to melt ice sheets faster, raise seas higher and trigger more extreme weather.
The U.S. is the world’s second-largest emitter of carbon, following only China. Beijing, however, has reaffirmed its commitment to meeting its targets under the Paris accord, recently canceling construction of about 100 coal-fired power plants and investing billions in massive wind and solar projects.
White House talking points obtained by The Associated Press said the Paris accord was “a BAD deal for Americans” and that the president’s action would keep “his campaign promise to put American workers first.”
“The Accord,” the document went on to say, “was negotiated poorly by the Obama Administration and signed out of desperation.”
“The U.S. is already leading the world in energy production and doesn’t need a bad deal that will harm American workers,” it read.
The White House had signaled earlier in the week that withdrawal was likely, but Trump has been known to change his mind at the last minute on such major decisions.
White House aides were divided on the topic and had been deliberating on “caveats in the language” as late as Wednesday, one official said.
The nation may withdraw, but some major city mayors won’t
“Salt Lake City is warming at a rate twice the global average, which is already impacting water supplies, worsening air quality, and threatening our $1 billion ski industry,” Biskupski said in a statement Thursday.
“This unprecedented action by President Trump affects each and every one of us,” she continued. “We must lead where the White House refuses to. Cities are paving the path toward a livable future and I’m proud to count Salt Lake City in that cohort.”
Biskupski is a member of the Climate Mayors, also known as Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, or MNCAA, a network of U.S. mayors representing more than 36 million Americans.
The Climate Mayors issued a statement that reads in part:
“As 61 Mayors representing 36 million Americans, we will adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement. We will intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and work together to create the 21st clean energy economy.”
Utah senators applaud climate accord withdrawal
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, issued the following statement via Facebook:
The Paris climate deal is a bad deal that costs the United States a lot of money and costs the United States a lot in terms of making a commitment to something that even a Democratic Congress with a newly minted Democratic President Barack Obama in 2009 couldn’t achieve. President Obama could and should have submitted the Paris climate deal to the senate for ratification as a treaty, but he didn’t because he knew the will did not exist to ratify it. Good policy is good politics. If the Paris climate deal was good policy, President Obama wouldn’t have needed to subvert the constitutional process for entering the American people into international agreements.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, also issued a statement:
I continue to be encouraged by the President’s efforts to reduce unnecessary and ineffective regulatory burdens. Withdrawing from this unenforceable agreement – which lacked the support of the American people and never came before the Senate for approval – is a step in the right direction. President Obama’s climate agenda did little to improve the environment while doing much to hurt the economy. Look forward to working with the President to rein in the overregulation of the Obama administration and help America’s businesses compete globally.
Associated Press writers Ken Thomas, Erica Werner, Vivian Salama, Michael Biesecker and Seth Borenstein in Washington contributed to this report. | The Salt Lake City Mayor’s, Climate Mayor’s and Utah senator responses contributed by St. George News senior reporter Mori Kessler
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