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Global dismay as Trump withdraws from historic climate deal

The Paris Agreement was one of the most ambitious climate change accords in history [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 June, 2017

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President Donald Trump announced that the United States is withdrawing from the Paris climate deal, throwing international efforts to combat global warming into doubt.
President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that the United States is withdrawing from the Paris climate deal, throwing international efforts to combat global warming into doubt.

In a sharply nationalist address from the White House rose garden, Trump slammed the deal signed by his predecessor Barack Obama, having long said it failed to "put America first."

"I cannot, in good conscience, support a deal that punishes the United States," Trump said, decrying the "draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country."

The Paris Agreement was one of the most ambitious climate change accords in history and commits signatories to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, which is blamed for melting ice caps and glaciers, rising sea levels and more violent weather events.

The United States is the world's second largest greenhouse gas emitter after China, so Trump's decision could seriously hamper efforts to cut emissions and limit global temperature increases.

"I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," he said. "We don't want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore. And they won't be."

There were no further details about how or when a formal withdrawal would happen, with Trump even suggesting a renegotiation could take place.

"We're getting out but we'll start to negotiate and we will see if we can make a deal that's fair. And if we can, that's great. And if we can't, that's fine," he said.

'Historic mistake'

That proposal was immediately slapped down by allies in Europe, who joined figures from around the world to condemn the move.

"The agreement cannot be renegotiated," France, Germany and Italy said in a joint statement.

Germany said the US was "harming" the entire planet, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called the decision "seriously wrong."

Trump's domestic critics include Obama, who said the United States was "joining a handful of nations that reject the future."

Hillary Clinton, Trump's opponent in last year's White House race, called the decision to pull out a "historic mistake."

"The world is moving forward together on climate change. Paris withdrawal leaves American workers & families behind," she wrote on Twitter.

While Trump's decision is likely to play well with the Republican base, at least a dozen large companies who had urged the US to remain in the deal criticized the move.

Nicaragua and Syria are the only countries not party to the Paris accord, the former seeing it as not ambitious enough and the latter being racked by a brutal six-year civil war.

In New York, some major buildings, like the World Trade Centre and City Hall, were lit green in solidarity with the climate agreement, echoing a move in Paris.

Democratic governors in New York, California, and Washington states formed a quick alliance and vowed to respect the standards agreed under the Paris deal.

Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk, and Disney chief Robert Iger, announced they would no longer participate in presidential business councils.

"Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world," Musk said.

GE head Jeff Immelt said he was "disappointed" with the decision: "Climate change is real. Industry must now lead and not depend on government."

China to stay on course

Hours ahead of Trump's announcement, China's Premier Li Keqiang pledged to stay the course on implementing the climate accord in a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and urged other countries to do likewise.

China has been investing billions in clean energy infrastructure, as it battles to clear up the choking pollution enveloping its cities.

On Friday the official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary that Trump's announcement came "to the regret of almost all", although it was "anything but a surprise."

It added that "other major players" including the European Union, China and India have said they will "step up efforts in the face of the US change of heart over the landmark deal."

The leader of Asia's other behemoth, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi - who is due to visit the White House shortly - has said failing to act on climate change would be "morally criminal."

White House officials acknowledged that under the deal, formal withdrawal may not take place until after the 2020 election.

China and the US are responsible for some 40 percent of the world's emissions and experts had warned it was vital for both to remain in the Paris agreement if it is to succeed.

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