President Donald Trump announced Thursday that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris climate accord, making America one of three countries not to participate in the historic agreement to combat climate change.
“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” Trump said in the White House Rose Garden. “But begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or a, really, entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers.”
“So we’re getting out, but we will start to negotiate and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair,” he continued. “And if we can, that’s great. And if we can’t, that’s fine.”
The President complained about China and India’s own stated emissions targets under the deal, saying they were unfair to the United States. And he suggested that the rest of the world had duped the United States into signing onto the deal — which the United States itself, under President Barack Obama, was instrumental in establishing — in order to deal an economic blow.
“This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States,” he said. “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.”
“A cynic would say the obvious reason for economic competitors and their wish to see us remain in the agreement is so that we continue to suffer this self-inflicted major economic wound,” he said.
Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt — who once as Oklahoma’s attorney general used an oil and gas lobbyist’s letter almost word-for-word in an objection to the Interior Department — delivered brief remarks after Trump.
Pruitt said that Trump had “corrected a view that was paramount in Paris, that somehow the United States should penalize its own economy, be apologetic, lead with our chin, while the rest of the world does little.”
The United States’ withdrawal from the agreement could encourage other nations to back away from their enforcement of the voluntary arrangement, which is non-binding and has no penalties for missing the mark on emissions goals. Rather, it works through peer pressure and diplomacy.
Every nation on Earth signed on to the deal except for two: Syria, still in the midst of a brutal, years-long civil war; and Nicaragua, who insisted the deal didn’t go far enough.
The agreement, adopted in late 2015 at the COP 21, went into force in late 2016. The Obama administration formally joined the agreement in August of 2016.
“We are here together because we believe that for all the challenges that we face, the growing threat of climate change could define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other challenge,” President Obama said at the time.
The United States’ announced goal was to lower emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
Obama also pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, a voluntary global effort to help poor countries cope with the effects of climate change. However, his administration ultimately approved a total of only $1 billion in transfers to the fund.
Trump railed against the fund for several minutes Thursday. And his proposed budget would slash funding to other global efforts to combat climate change, and research and preservation efforts stateside.
Obama released a muted statement Thursday, saying the agreement was the result of global cooperation and “American’s private innovation and public investment” renewable energy sources.
“The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created,” he said. “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.”
Watch Trump’s announcement, via NBC:
Watch: President Trump announces withdrawal from Paris climate agreement: “I don’t want anything to get in our way” https://t.co/7aOFbSeiqb
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 1, 2017
This post has been updated.