Washington: President Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal from the Paris climate deal calling it “draconian”, triggering widespread condemnation at home and abroad. Trump particularly targeted India.
In a speech from White House’s Rose Garden on Thursday, Trump said the landmark 2015 pact imposed wildly unfair environmental standards on American businesses and workers.
“Compliance to the deal could cost 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025… Believe me, this is not what we need.”
Trump vowed to stand with the American people and said the accord imposed “draconian financial and economic burdens” on the US.
“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” the President said, drawing support from members of his Republican Party but trenchant criticism from world leaders, business executives and greens.
Trump said he wanted to negotiate a better deal for the US or re-enter the accord on improved terms. He said he had explained his decision to the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Canada.
Trump’s speech was his most sweeping assertion of “America first” doctrine since taking office four months ago.
The US now joins Nicaragua and Syria as the only non-participants to the accord, signed by 195 nations including Washington in Paris in December 2015 to combat climate change.
The pact commits the signatories to keep rising global temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and try to limit them even more, to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Trump said the deal “disadvantages the US to the exclusive betterment of other countries” and targeted India specifically.
“India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions of dollars in foreign aid.”
He said China was allowed to have many coal plants and India to double its coal output by 2020 but not the US.
He refused to provide financial assistance for pollution control in developing nations and said he would rather hire police officers in American cities.
“At what point does America get demeaned? At what point do they start laughing at us as a country?” Trump said. “We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us any more.
“We will be environmentally friendly but we’re not going to put our businesses out of work.”
He said under the accord China can steadily grow its carbon footprint till 2030. “They can do whatever they want in 13 years but not us.”
The announcement met the first backlash at home even before Trump ended his speech. California Governor Jerry Brown vowed the state “will resist this misguided and insane course of action”.
Former President Barack Obama, who played a key role in negotiating the deal, accused Trump of “rejecting the future”.
A total of 61 “Climate Mayors” representing 36 million Americans in cities including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles said they will adopt, honour and uphold the commitments to meet the goals of the Paris pact.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “deeply disappointed”. French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni issued a joint statement saying the agreement cannot be “renegotiated since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies”.
British Prime Minister Theresa May expressed her dismay. Dutch Environment Minister Sharon Dijksma called the US decision “a historic mistake”.
Miguel Arias Canete, the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, said: “The Paris Agreement will endure.”
Japan and Australia said they will keep backing the Paris deal.
A UN spokeswoman said it was a “major disappointment for global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote global security”.
Twenty-five major US firms including Apple, Google, Facebook, Gap, Microsoft and Unilever ran a full-page ad in Washington dailies to try convince Trump that sticking with the deal was better for the US economy.
Disney CEO Robert Iger and Tesla founder Elon Musk resigned from White House advisory councils in protest.
“Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world,” said Musk.
Google’s Indian-American CEO Sundar Pichai said: “Disappointed with today’s decision. Google will keep working hard for a cleaner, more prosperous future for all.”
Tech giants Apple, HP, Intel, IBM and Amazon all released statements saying they believed climate change was real and they supported the agreement.
Many scientists and environmentalists said the planet will reach more dangerous levels of warming sooner because of Trump’s decision as America contributes hugely to carbon dioxide and global rising temperatures.