WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he was pulling the U.S. from the landmark Paris climate agreement, striking a major blow to worldwide efforts to combat global warming and distancing the country from its closest allies abroad.
Framing his decision as “a reassertion of America’s sovereignty,” Trump said he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
He said the U.S. could try to re-enter the deal under more favorable terms or work to establish “an entirely new transaction.”
But he indicated that was hardly a priority.
“If we can, great. If we can’t, that’s fine,” he said.
Scientists say Earth is likely to reach more dangerous levels of warming sooner as a result of the president’s decision because America’s pollution contributes so much to rising temperatures.
Calculations suggest withdrawal could result in emissions of up to 3 billion tons of additional carbon dioxide a year – enough to melt ice sheets faster, raise seas higher and trigger more extreme weather.
By abandoning the world’s chief effort to slow the tide of planetary warming, Trump was fulfilling a top campaign pledge after weeks of building up suspense over his decision.
The White House indicated it would follow the lengthy exit process outlined in the deal.
That means the U.S. would remain in the agreement, at least formally, for another three-and-a-half years, ensuring the issue remains alive in the next presidential election.
However, Trump declared, emphasizing every word: “As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the nonbinding Paris accord.”
He is breaking from many of America’s staunchest allies, who have expressed alarm about the decision.
Several of his top aides also opposed the action, including his daughter Ivanka Trump.
Under former President Barack Obama, the U.S. had agreed under the accord to reduce polluting emissions by more than a quarter below 2005 levels by 2025.
But the national targets are voluntary, leaving room for the U.S. and the nearly 200 other countries in the agreement to alter their commitments.
The leaders of France, Germany and Italy joined to “note with regret” the Trump decision and express doubts about any change in the accord.
The White House said Trump spoke with the leaders of Germany, France, Canada and Britain Thursday to explain his decision and reassured them that the U.S. is committed to the trans-Atlantic alliance and “robust efforts to protect the environment.”
At home, the U.S. Conference of Mayors strongly opposed the decision and said the nation’s mayors will continue efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.
Responding to Trump’s pointing to his city, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto called the decision “disastrous for our planet, for cities such as Pittsburgh,” and a step that “has made America weaker and the world less safe.”
Protesters took to the streets of lower Manhattan to protest Trump’s decision Thursday afternoon.
Withing three ours of the President’s announcement, numerous protesters gathered outside the White House. Most of them work in Washington D.C. and joined the protest soon after work.
“This deal was our chance to join them in pushing the world forward. And now we are falling behind. It looks bad for us and it’s just a disaster,” said a protester.
“Climate change is recognized science by almost everybody and all thinking people agree with this. And the only reason that they’re doing this is to pander to their climate denying base. They’re putting politics above the future of the planet,” said another protester.
Overnight, buildings in the United States and abroad lit up bright green in support of the Paris climate accord.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo directed that both the One World Trade Center and the Kosciuszko Bridge to be lit green in solidarity.
“The White House’s reckless decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord has devastating repercussions not only for the United States, but for our planet,” Governor Cuomo said in a press release. “This administration is abdicating its leadership and taking a backseat to other countries in the global fight against climate change.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh also showed support by lighting up their city halls.
In Washington, just steps away from the White House, the Wilson Building was also lit up green. Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted that it was “in honor of DC’s continued commitment” to the Paris Agreement.