The world forged ahead today with the Paris climate deal after President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the pact, triggering bitter condemnation from all corners of the globe. Trump announced Thursday that his administration would immediately stop implementing the 195-nation accord brokered by Barack Obama in 2015 in tandem with Chinese leaders.
The European Union said it was increasing efforts with China, the world’s biggest polluter, to galvanise global efforts to implement the deal while India vowed to stick to the pact regardless of the United States. Trump also faced a backlash at home where Democratic state governors, city mayors and powerful companies drew up plans to meet the pact’s greenhouse gas emission targets.
“Americans will honour and fulfill the Paris agreement by leading from the bottom up — and there isn’t anything Washington can do to stop us,” former New York mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg said.
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However, Russian President Vladimir Putin spared Trump more withering criticism and urged the world to work with the New York tycoon on climate.
In Brussels, European Council President Donald Tusk said the EU is “stepping up our cooperation on climate change with China” following a summit with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
But EU officials said the two sides failed to formally endorse a joint statement on the issue due to a lingering but separate trade row.
Expressions of shock and regret poured in from around the world, including from Pacific islands at risk of being swallowed by rising seas, who accused Washington of “abandoning” them.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the EU’s most powerful leader, pledged “more decisive action than ever” to protect the climate after Trump’s “highly regrettable” decision.
In a nationalistic “America First” announcement from the White House Rose Garden, Trump said he was withdrawing from a UN-backed deal that imposes “draconian financial and economic burdens” on the United States while going too easy on economic rivals China, India and Europe.
“We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore. And they won’t be.”
Trump offered no details about how, or when, a formal withdrawal would happen. At one point he suggested a renegotiation could take place, an idea that was unceremoniously slapped down by partners.
“There is nothing to renegotiate here,” EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete told reporters in Brussels.
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.
Nicaragua and war-torn Syria are the only countries not party to the Paris accord, the former seeing it as not ambitious enough.
Trump’s decision is likely to play well with the Republican base, with the more immediate damage likely to appear on the diplomatic front.
Vice President Mike Pence said that Trump “has demonstrated his commitment… to put American workers, American consumers, American energy, and the American people first.”
Ever the showman, the 70-year-old Trump gave his decision a reality TV-style tease, refusing to indicate his preference either way until his announcement.
Opponents of the pullout — said to include Trump’s daughter Ivanka — had warned that Washington’s global leadership role was at stake, along with the environment.
Following the announcement Tesla boss Elon Musk and Disney chief Robert Iger said 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.
White House officials acknowledged that under the deal, a formal withdrawal might not take place until after the 2020 election, and leaders will certainly push Trump to reconsider his decision in the meantime.