For withdrawing the United States (U.S.) from the Paris agreement on climate change, President Donald Trump received a hard knock from his predecessor, Barack Obama, on Thursday.
Trump announced the withdrawal at a White House Rose Garden speech.
While criticising the move, Obama warned that Trump’s action would see the U.S. “reject the future”.
“The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created,” Obama gave the warning in a statement.
Before the announcement, Trump informed Congress about his decision, preparing Republican legislators with arguments and lines to take in the face of an expected blowback.
Trump said it was his solemn duty to protect “America and its citizens” and that the U.S. would “withdraw from the Paris climate accord, but begin negotiations to re-enter the Paris accord or a new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States”.
He said: “So we are getting out, but we will start to negotiate and see if we can make a deal that’s fair.”
Trump described the Paris climate accord as an “agreement that is disadvantageous to the U.S. to the exclusive benefits of other countries”.
The withdrawal also includes the cancellation of all U.S. contributions to the Green Climate Fund, which Trump said was “costing the U.S. a vast fortune”.
According to the rules of the 2016 Paris deal, stepping out of its provisions will be a lengthy process that could take up to four years.
Trump said he could not “in good conscience support a deal that punishes the U.S. and that poses no punishment for the world’s great polluters”.
Trump claimed “the nations asking us to stay in the agreement are the same nations that cost America trillions of dollars through unfair trade agreements, and the same that do not contribute to military alliances.
“At what point do they start laughing at us? I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not the citizens of Paris,” he said.
U.S. coal company shares dipped alongside renewable energy stocks on Wednesday after reports that Trump plans to pull the U.S. from a global accord on fighting climate change.
The market reaction reflects concerns, raised by some coal companies in recent months, that a U.S. exit from the Paris Climate Agreement could unleash a global backlash against coal interests outside the U.S.
Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president, on Thursday rejected as “seriously wrong” Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate deal.
In Germany, a statement by seven Social Democratic ministers in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s left-right coalition government said the U.S. “is harming itself, we Europeans and all the people of the world.”
German ministers claim “the land of the free and the home of the brave is contradicting its basic principles”.
The statement also states that the door will be kept open for the U.S. to join at a later date as the “global community must stick together now”.
Catherine McKenna, Canadian environment minister, said her country is “deeply disappointed by the U.S. decision on the Paris accord”.
And Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo says U.S. decision to pull out of the climate accord “is a mistake with dramatic consequences”.
The U.S. withdrawal from the accord fulfils one of Trump’s major campaign promises, and is in line with the America First policy he laid out before being elected president.
But, China said it will keep up its end of the Paris climate change accord, even if the U.S. pulls out from the agreement.
Li Keqiang, China’s Prime Minister, said his country will continue to work with the EU and other countries to uphold the deal.
Speaking after bilateral talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Li said it was “also in our interest … to work step by step towards sustainable development” and environmental protection together with the international community.
Continental Europe’s three biggest economies – Germany, France and Italy – criticised Donald Trump’s decision to quit the Paris climate agreement and said the pact was “not renegotiable.”
“We note the United States’ decision with regret,” the three countries said in a rare joint statement.
“We are firmly convinced that the agreement cannot be renegotiated,” they added, referring to Trump’s announcement that Washington was open to negotiating a new agreement.
And the mayor of Pittsburgh tweeted that the city will follow the guidelines of the Paris accord “for our people, our economy and future”.
Trump also lost the support of a top billionaire business leader.
Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, wrote on Twitter that he is “departing presidential councils,” something he had vowed to do if Trump took this step.
Musk writes: “Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.”