On Thursday, President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, after a long period of deliberation among key advisors. In the end, arguments won out which focused on American sovereignty and economic priorities. At his speech from the White House Rose Garden, Trump said “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” rebuking world leaders, Democrats, and some moderate Republicans, who had argued that there was a global imperative to address climate change.
The US is the world’s second largest polluter, after China. An American withdrawal is a major setback for an agreement that aimed to facilitate coordinated global action to combat rising temperatures as a result of greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement has been signed by 195 nations.
Trump said he hoped to negotiate a better deal for Americans, and that he had personally placed calls explaining the decision to withdraw, to leaders of Canada, Britain, France, and Germany. A White House statement said Trump had “reassured the leaders that America remains committed to the trans-Atlantic alliance and to robust efforts to protect the environment.”
However, the governments of Italy, France, and Germany issued a joint statement immediately following Trump’s announcement, saying the agreement was “irreversible” and would not be renegotiated.
Advisors such as Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon and EPA head Scott Pruitt had made their case against the agreement, going against other advisors who tried to convince the president to remain in the agreement. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, worked particularly hard to ensure the president heard opinions supportive of the agreement, arranging meetings with world leaders and corporate executives who favored the agreement.
“It would once have been unthinkable that an international agreement could prevent the United States from conducting its own domestic affairs,” Trump said, echoing his “America first” foreign policy doctrine.
“At what point does America get demeaned? At what point do they start laughing at us as a country? We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore. And they won’t be.”
Trump cited a study, disputed by environmental groups, that said the US would lose 2.7 million jobs by 2025 as direct result of the agreement.
However, Trump plans to observe the withdrawal process specified by the treaty, which means it will take the US almost 4 years to withdraw. This could ultimately leave the result dependent on the results of the 2020 presidential election.