Donald Trump pulls US out of Paris climate accord to ‘put American workers first’

Donald Trump has announced that he will withdraw the US from the Paris climate change agreement.

The decision was condemned immediately by environmental campaigners and by the president’s political opponents who said it heralded the death of America’s position as a global leader.

However, Mr Trump held out the hope of a compromise saying he would immediately start a process to develop a fairer deal that would protect American workers.

During a belligerent White House rose garden address, the US president said he wanted to reassert American sovereignty.

"We don't want other countries and other leaders laughing at us anymore," he said, adding that the current deal could cost the US as many as 2.7 million jobs by 2025.

“The Paris climate accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States, to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers, who I love, and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories and vastly diminished economic production,” he said.

It means the US stands alongside only Syria and Nicaragua as nations who are not part of the deal.

 Environmental campaigners said the American absence will make it considerable harder for the remaining 190 or so countries to reach their agreed goals, given that the US is responsible for about 15 percent of global emissions of carbon and promised $3 billion to help other nations.

Michael Brune, chief executive of the Sierra Club, said: “Trump has abandoned the standard of American leadership, turned his back on what the public and the market demand, and shamelessly disregarded the safety of our families just to let the fossil fuel industry eke out a few more dollars in profits.”

The issue divided Mr Trump’s inner circle and caused months of wrangling between economic nationalists who wanted to demonstrate a new era of American independence and moderates who feared losing Washington’s role as a global leader to other powers.

The US came under a last minute flurry of pressure not to abandon the deal even as new data revealed that the Paris agreement had failed to stop greenhouse gas emissions rising in the European Union in 2015.

"Higher emissions were caused mainly by increasing road transport, both passenger and freight, and slightly colder winter conditions in Europe, compared to 2014, leading to higher demand for heating," the European Environment Agency said, as it reported a rise of 0.5 percent in 2015 despite the international accord.

Nick Loris, an economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said it demonstrated the hypocrisy of European leaders who had lobbied Mr Trump on sticking to the pact. “It speaks to how disingenuous this whole process has become and a failure to acknowledge it’s an ineffective approach,” he said.

Although efforts to reverse global warming will continue among other nations, analysts worry that other leaders may follow the example of Mr Trump and put their own short-term political interests ahead of a long-term global campaign.

Barack Obama, who led the US into the deal, condemned his successor’s decision.

"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.

Mr Trump has already moved to dismantle Obama-era climate change regulations, including the US Clean Power Plan aimed at reducing emissions from main coal-fired power plants.

It is all part of a strategy designed to help bring back jobs in mining although economists question whether it is even possible to rejuvenate the industry.

Solomon Hsiang, of the University of California at Berkeley, said: “Putting national resources further into coal while China takes the lead in solar is like investing in building a better horse-drawn carriage back when Henry Ford was investing in mass producing cars.”


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