WASHINGTON — The United States will withdraw from the Paris climate change accord and either renegotiate terms or strike a new deal more favorable to U.S. manufacturing, President Donald Trump announced Thursday in fulfilling a campaign pledge to put “America first,” but also leaving the country among only two others that reject the landmark pact.
Trump cast the 2015 agreement as both ineffective in protecting the environment and unfair to the U.S. economy.
“So we’re getting out,” he said, revealing his much-anticipated decision in a sweltering hot White House Rose Garden news conference. “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
Trump said the U.S. would immediately stop payments agreed upon in the pact because they amounted to the “redistribution of United States wealth to other countries.”
His decision to break with the collective commitment to combatting global warming was immediately met with condemnation by European allies, including France, Germany and Italy, which issued a joint statement.
The Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change said, “The Paris Agreement remains a historic treaty signed by 194 and ratified by 147 counties. Therefore it cannot be renegotiated based on the request of a single party.”
Former President Barack Obama, who helped to broker the agreement, said “bold American ambition” had inspired other nations to aim higher in fighting greenhouse gases and other pollutants.
“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,” he said.
Others pledged to fight on, saying the science proves the planet is at risk. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo joined with California Gov. Jerry Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to form the “United States Climate Alliance” committing states to uphold the Paris tenets.
Corporations from General Electric to IBM to Amazon and their leaders released statements and sent tweets saying that climate change is real and that they will do their part to help achieve the Paris accord’s goals
The departure of the United States, which is among the world’s top carbon polluters, plunges into doubt the future and reach of the pact. Trump said he cares “deeply” about the environment, but found the Paris deal didn’t go far enough to curb emissions by such signatories as China and India.
As a private citizen, Trump had tweeted that he believed global warming to be a “hoax” perpetrated by Chinese officials for an economic foothold over the United States. On Thursday, he would not respond to reporters’ questions about whether he maintains that view.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Ivanka Trump were among those who urged him to stay in the deal, while White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Priutt pushed to leavem according to the Washington Post.
After the announcement, senior administration officials also couldn’t shed light on what Trump believes, telling reporters they had not discussed it with him and saying the queries weren’t “on topic.”
While Trump discussed at length why he believed the accord to be a poor fit for the United States, earning applause at points from an audience that included Pruitt and Bannon, he did not detail what terms he sought for a new arrangement.
Pruitt, part of the faction of advisors who urged Trump toward abandoning the agreement, called the withdrawal a “historic restoration of American economic independence.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) commended Trump’s position, criticizing the Paris agreement’s mandates as unattainable. “Today’s move builds on action Congress took to rebuff then-President Obama’s regulatory rampage, which put American jobs at risk,” he said.
New York’s Democratic senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, called it a failure of historic proportions.
“Pulling out of the Paris agreement doesn’t put America first, it puts America last in recognizing science, in being a world leader and protecting our own shore line, our economy and our planet,” Schumer said.
Syria and Nicaragua are the other two countries not signed on to the Paris agreement.
With Emily C. Dooley