WASHINGTON — Declaring that he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris” and he didn’t want other nations “laughing at us anymore,” President Trump said the U.S. would withdraw immediately from the non-binding parts of last year’s Paris climate accord and try to forge a better deal.
All other countries are parties to the agreement except Syria and Nicaragua. Under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. will be able to give its withdrawal notice in 2019 and exit the deal in 2020.
“In short, the agreement doesn’t eliminate coal jobs. It just transfers those jobs out of America and the United States, and ships them to foreign countries. This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States,” Trump said in a Rose Garden statement. “The rest of the world applauded when we signed the Paris Agreement. They went wild. They were so happy. For the simple reason that it put our country, the United States of America, which we all love, at a very, very big economic disadvantage.”
He called the climate accord “a massive redistribution of United States wealth to other countries.”
“We’ll be the cleanest. We’re going to have the cleanest air. We’re going to have the cleanest water. We will be environmentally friendly but we’re not going to put our businesses out of work, we’re not going to lose our jobs. We’re going to grow. We’re going to grow rapidly,” he added.
Recently returned from the NATO and G-7 summits, Trump took a stab at allies who had encouraged him to stick with the global climate pact. “The same nations asking us to stay in the agreement are the countries that have collectively cost America trillions of dollars through tough trade practices and in many cases lax contributions to our critical military alliance. You see what’s happening. It’s pretty obvious to those that want to keep an open mind,” he said.
“At what point does America get demeaned? At what point do they start laughing at us as a country? We want fair treatment for its citizens and we want fair treatment for our taxpayers. We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore, and they won’t be. They won’t be.”
Trump said he wanted to renegotiate the agreement into a deal that puts “Youngstown, Ohio, Detroit, Michigan, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, along with many, many other locations within our great country, before Paris, France.” But French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone with Trump before the announcement and told him that the deal was not up for negotiation.
Republicans largely praised the move, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) applauding Trump “for dealing yet another significant blow to the Obama administration’s assault on domestic energy production and jobs.”
“President Obama made commitments in this deal based off a costly power plan that we knew at the time was on shaky legal ground,” McConnell said. “By withdrawing from this unattainable mandate, President Trump has reiterated his commitment to protecting middle class families across the country and workers throughout coal country from higher energy prices and potential job loss.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said that “though flawed, the climate accord can be fixed.”
“To advance America’s interests, and grow our economy, we must remain a leader on the world stage,” Royce said. “Clean air and clean water should be our goal both here in the United States and in the developing world. It’s now up to the administration to deliver a better deal.”
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) objected to the withdrawal, citing the effects of climate change on the Everglades. “South Floridians know that investing in a clean energy future is not just a priority but a necessity in order to sustain life in our region,” Curbelo tweeted. “The effects of pollution and climate change do not obey national or continental borders. This us vs them mentality makes 0 sense.”
“Something’s not right when @POTUS is putting our country on a list with bad hombres Bashar al Assad of Syria & Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua,” the GOP congressman added.
The office of former President Obama issued a statement from the 44th commander in chief, in which he argued that members of 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,” Obama said. “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.”
On May 10, CEOs from 30 companies including The Dow Chemical Company, General Electric, 3M and Coca-Cola signed an open letter to Trump warning of “strong potential for negative trade implications if the United States exits from the Paris Agreement.”
“Our business interests are best served by a stable and practical framework facilitating an effective and balanced response to reducing global [greenhouse gas] emissions,” they wrote. “The Paris Agreement gives us that flexible framework to manage climate change while providing a smooth transition for business.”
ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods wrote to Trump in May arguing that staying in the agreement would be economically advantageous as the U.S. is “well positioned to compete” within the pact and needs “a seat at the negotiating table to ensure a level playing field.” Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell and BP have also come out in favor of the agreement.
Opposition also came from the city name-dropped by Trump: the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote in an editorial, “If the United States pulls out of the Paris accord, it simply won’t have a place at the table to negotiate the future of energy production and consumption and its effect on economic development. The best interests of America lie inside this decision-making tent.”
“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,” tweeted city leader Bill Peduto.
Space X CEO Elon Musk tweeted Wednesday, “Don’t know which way Paris will go, but I’ve done all I can to advise directly to POTUS, through others in WH & via councils, that we remain.”
Today, Musk tweeted, “Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.”