President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he would withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, the latest development in his controversial and bizarre presidency.
Foreign leaders, business executives and Trump’s own daughter had lobbied heavily for him to remain a part of the deal, but ultimately lost out to conservatives who claim the plan is bad for the United States.
“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but being negotiations to reenter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction under terms that are fair to the United States,” Trump said from the White House Rose Garden. “We’re getting out. And we will start to renegotiate and we’ll see if there’s a better deal. If we can, great. If we can’t, that’s fine.”
Trump’s decision amounts to a rebuttal of the worldwide effort to pressure the president to remain a part of the agreement, which 195 nations signed onto, CNN reported.
The Paris decision continues Trump’s assault on the legacy of America’s first African-American president, Barack Obama, who responded to the 45th president’s announcement Thursday with a statement of his own.
“A year and a half ago, the world came together in Paris around the first-ever global agreement to set the world on a low-carbon course and protect the world we leave to our children,” Obama said. “It was steady, principled American leadership on the world stage that made that achievement possible. It was bold American ambition that encouraged dozens of other nations to set their sights higher as well.
“And what made that leadership and ambition possible was America’s private innovation and public investment in growing industries like wind and solar — industries that created some of the fastest new streams of good-paying jobs in recent years, and contributed to the longest streak of job creation in our history,” Obama said.
Since he’s taken office, Trump has targeted just about every policy, order and agreement Obama had made during his two terms in the Oval Office.
He has worked to rid the nation of the Affordable Health Care Act, Obama’s signature piece of legislation, despite the Congressional Budget Office noting that Trump and his fellow Republicans’ plan would result in 23 million Americans losing health benefits.
Trump has also set his sights on dismantling the arrangement Obama has in place that reopened the borders between the United States and Cuba.
Still, some say Trump’s decision Thursday amounts to another smokescreen where the president wants to detract attention from his many troubles. The announcement comes just after Trump returned to the White House from his first trip abroad and amid turmoil within his administration.
Former FBI Director James Comey reportedly has been cleared to testify before lawmakers about Trump’s demands for his loyalty while Comey investigated the president and his campaign’s ties to Russia and that country’s interference in the 2016 election.
The FBI and Congress are also examining a campaign event last spring during which Trump, Jeff Sessions and Jared Kushner were in a small gathering with Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak and other diplomats at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel, multiple U.S. officials told NBC News.
Five current and former U.S. officials said they are aware of classified intelligence suggesting there was some sort of private encounter between Trump and his aides and the Russian envoy, despite a heated denial from Sessions, who has already come under fire for failing to disclose two separate contacts with Kislyak. Kushner also denied through a spokesman that he met privately with Kislyak that day, according to NBC News.
As for the Paris deal, opting made little sense, according to many pundits and politicians. In some states, it will even result in the loss of employment.
“This is a double-barreled blow to both Pennsylvania jobs and our environment,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania). “By pulling out of an agreement to combat climate change, President Trump has put Pennsylvania workers at a disadvantage when it comes to competing for clean energy jobs.
“Foreign countries will now take the lead in growing an industry that produces jobs with family sustaining incomes,” Casey said. “Additionally, pulling out of this climate change agreement will undermine the clean air that every Pennsylvanian has a right to expect.”
The senator added, “Vulnerable children will be particularly impacted by the lack of action to protect clean air. Without action on climate change, more children will suffer from diseases like asthma and malnutrition. Climate change is a serious challenge which requires action, not retreat.”
The private sector already chose a low-carbon future and, for the nations that committed themselves to that future, the Paris agreement opened the floodgates for businesses, scientists, and engineers to unleash high-tech, low-carbon investment and innovation on an unprecedented scale, Obama said.
“The nations that remain in the Paris agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created,” the former president said. “I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack. But 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.”