WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord Thursday, a major step that will fulfill a campaign promise while sparking global outcry.
The White House began informing members of Congress Thursday afternoon that Trump planned to pull out of the US from the landmark agreement, according to a congressional source.
“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but being negotiations to reenter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction under terms that are fair to the United States,” Trump said 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,” he added.
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were calling lawmakers, including House and Senate leaders, in the hours leading up to the announcement to get input on his climate decision, a Republican source said.
The President campaigned against the climate agreement as a candidate, and those close to him suggest he’s ready to fulfill those promises to remove the US from the 195-country deal. The move would isolate the United States in a global effort to curb the warming of the planet, and leave an opening for countries like China to fill the leadership void.
“The United States will cease all implementation of the nonbinding Paris accord,” Trump said, saying it would include ending the implementation of carbon reduction targets set under Obama and ending contributions to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund, which Trump said was “costing the United States a fortune.”
“As someone who cares deeply about our environment, I cannot in good conscience support a deal which punishes the United States,” he said. “The Paris accord is very unfair at the highest level to the United States.”
Pressure to remain in the Paris accord has been intense.
As news emerged Wednesday that Trump planned to quit the Paris deal, business leaders and foreign heads-of-state began castigating the decision as a woeful abandonment of US leadership. Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, said he would resign from White House business councils if Trump followed through. Apple CEO Tim Cook also urged Trump to reconsider.
Inside the West Wing, attempts to sway Trump’s thinking also continued apace. Trump’s daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka, has worked to ensure her father heard pro-Paris voices over the last several months, and has continued to press for a decision short of a full withdrawal.
Ivanka Trump and her allies, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Trump’s chief economist Gary Cohn, have pressed Trump to alter the US commitments to the Paris agreement without fully pulling out of the accord.
But anti-Paris voices, led by chief strategist Steve Bannon and EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, have appeared to win out. In conversations with his advisers, Trump has cited the affect a withdrawal would have on the states where he won by the largest margins, including in the Rust Belt and the western plains.
That’s a reflection of Trump’s “America First” governing policy, which he’s sought to bolster since taking office. Trump was pressured heavily by his foreign counterparts during last week’s G7 meetings in Sicily to remain in the deal, but his advisers say he felt little obligation to concede to that point of view.
On Wednesday, global figures began reiterating their own commitment to the Paris deal as Trump prepared to withdraw. Chinese premier Li Keqiang, visiting Germany, said his country would remain committed to combating climate change, despite US moves.
And European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker declared Europe was ready to act as a global climate leader in the US absence.
“The vacuum that would be created has to be filled, and Europe has aspirations for a natural leadership in this whole process,” he said in Berlin.
Following the news, many world and national leaders took to Twitter to voice their frustration or approval on the move.
Some people even began retweeting a message that Trump tweeted in 2012 regarding climate change.