US President Donald Trump has announced in a press conference in the White House Rose Garden today that he will withdraw the United States as a signatory of the historic Paris Agreement after months of speculation and rumours.
The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November, 2016, after being adopted at the COP 21 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference and ratified early in October. According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,
“The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
For months now we have been covering the rumours and speculation that the United States would withdraw from the Agreement, following promises and criticism from US President Donald Trump. Just yesterday reports circulated that Trump had decided to pull out of the Agreement, which we covered here and here.
Speaking today at a news conference in the White House Rose Garden, Donald Trump confirmed everyone’s worst fears and officially confirmed that the United States will now initiate what is a four-year process to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.
“In order to fulfil my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord,” Donald Trump began, before being interrupted by applause from the crowd of White House officials and staff. “But begin negotiations to reenter the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction on terms that are favourable to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its workers, its taxpayers. So we’re getting out. But we will start to renegotiate, and we’ll see if we can make a deal that is fair. And if we can, that’s great. And if we can’t, that’s fine.”
Donald Trump spent the majority of his speech explaining how the Paris accords were unfair to the United States, requiring different gains and restrictions to the United States as compared to emerging and other economies such as China and India. The premise of his argument was that the Paris Climate Agreement was almost-single-handedly designed to put America down and restrict American job and economic growth.
However, unsurprisingly, the logic and rationale behind his argument was based on faulty logic. The United States has contributed the largest amount of pollution to the planet than any other country because it has been emitting larger amounts for longer. It makes sense, therefore, that the targets for the US would be different — a westernised, economically vibrant and solidified country — than for countries like China and India — who are emerging economies, with burgeoning populations, and need large amounts of energy and electricity quicker to allow economic growth to happen.
The whole speech is below.
In a conference call held only hours before the announcement which The Daily Beast gained access to, White House energy policy adviser Michael Catanzaro explained that “the United States is getting out of the Paris agreement.” He added that the US “will be open to and will immediately be looking for a better deal.”
“We will initiate the process, which, all told, takes four years in total. But we’re going to make very clear to the world that we’re not going to be abiding by what the previous administration agreed to.”
In response to the news that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, a number of past and present US politicians responded immediately. You can also find a much larger collection of responses to the news over here, where I’ve collated as many responses as I could find.
“A year and a half ago, the world came together in Paris around the first-ever global agreement to set the world on a low-carbon course and protect the world we leave to our children,” said former President Barack Obama. “The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created. 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.”
“President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement is an abdication of American leadership and an international disgrace,” said Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders in a statement prior to the announcement. “At this moment, when climate change is already causing devastating harm around the world, we do not have the moral right to turn our backs on efforts to preserve this planet for future
“President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement is a devastating failure of historic proportions,” said Democratic Senator Charles E. Schumer. “Future generations will look back on President Trump’s decision as one of the worst policy moves made in the 21st century because of the huge damage to our economy, our environment, and our geopolitical standing.”
There’s a number of high-profile news agencies raising the spectre of the Paris Agreement surviving if the US leaves. While it will certainly be a blow, one hopes that we can step away from those who think the world hinges on every move the US makes and look to the great work being done by the European Union, China, and other countries.
This story is not going to finish today — there will be days of responses and recriminations and defence. We’ll do our best to cover the whole thing over the next few days. Stay tuned.