On June 1, President Donald Trump announced that the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord. He also said the U.S. would begin negotiations to enter the accord, or a new treaty, on terms that he believes would be better for American businesses and 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,” Trump said in address in the White House Rose Garden.
Trump said the U.S. will immediately “cease all implementation of the nonbinding Paris accord,” citing “draconian” financial and regulatory burdens imposed on the United States by the Paris Agreement.
The decision didn’t come as much of a surprise for most observers. In fact, according to a number of reports prior to his announcement, administration officials had told media outlets that the president was leaning toward withdrawing from the Paris Agreement.
That didn’t stop environmental leaders and many public figures, including former President Barack Obama, from expressing their disappointment.
“The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created,” Obama said in a statement. “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.”
Although most Republicans greeted President Trump’s decision with glee, Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins tweeted, “Climate change requires a global approach. I’m disappointed in the President’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.”
Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USA’s executive director, said, “This is disgraceful. By withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, the Trump administration has turned America from a global climate leader into a global climate deadbeat.”
“Generations from now, Americans will look back at Donald Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement as one of the most ignorant and dangerous actions ever taken by any President,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in a statement.
Democrats also criticized Trump’s decision. “Trump is betraying the country, in the service of Breitbart fake news, the shameless fossil fuel industry, and the Koch brothers’ climate denial operation,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. “America’s biggest corporations and investors urged the President to stick with international efforts to address the climate threat. They and all of us will now have to proceed with a seriousness of purpose commensurate with the threat.”
Even Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s threat to leave Trump’s advisory councils if he rejected the Paris Agreement wasn’t enough to change the president’s mind.
Shortly after the president’s announcement, Musk made good on that threat. “Am departing presidential councils,” he tweeted. “Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.”
“It’s time to put Youngstown, Ohio, Detroit, Michigan, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, along with many, many other locations within our great country before Paris, France,” Trump said. “It’s is time to make America great again.”
Although the U.S. can’t officially withdraw from the Paris Agreement until November 2019, it is possible to expedite the process by abandoning a Senate-approved climate measure linked to the Paris accord.