President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the landmark Paris climate change agreement has drawn strong criticism both at home and abroad, with world and local leaders pledging their support for the accord regardless of Washington’s withdrawal.
Trump announced on Thursday that he would abandon the agreement, saying it was his solemn duty to protect “America and its citizens”.
He said the US would “withdraw from the Paris climate accord, but begin negotiations to re-enter the Paris accord or a new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States”.
According to the rules of the 2016 Paris deal, stepping out of its provisions will be a lengthy process that could take up to four years.
‘No plan B’
Trump’s announcement drew quick criticism from world leaders who called it “disappointing” and “regrettable”.
The leaders of Germany, France and Italy issued a joint statement, saying the “Paris Agreement remains a cornerstone in the cooperation” between the three countries.
They also dismissed Trump’s claim that the agreement could be renegotiated.
“We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated, since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies,” their statement added.
French President Emmanuel Macron also said in a televised statement that “there is no plan B” on climate because “there is no planet B”.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) June 1, 2017
Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, said it was a “dramatic mistake for President Trump to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement”.
Neighbouring leaders also expressed dismay at the decision.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it “deeply disappointing”, while Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto reaffirmed his country’s “support and commitment to the Paris agreement”.
Russia said it will stay committed to backing the deal, state news reported.
“We made the decision to join, and I don’t think we will [change] it,” Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said on Friday.
The Elders, an independent global leaders group chaired by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, “condemned the US for quitting” the deal.
“The US reneging on its commitment to the Paris Agreement renders it a rogue state on the international stage,” Mary Robinson, Elder and former UN special envoy on climate change, said in a statement.
— The Elders (@TheElders) June 1, 2017
Sunita Narain, an environmentalist with the India-based Centre for Science and Environment, told Al Jazeera that Trump’s decision was “a disaster for the world”.
“Let’s be very clear, without the US serious about reducing its emissions, there is nothing the world can do to actually keep itself below the two degree safety guardrail”, she said, referring to the level that is considered a crucial tipping point and above which scientists warn there will be grave consequences on food production and major climate events.
In a statement, Japan’s foreign ministry called the decision “regrettable”, adding that “climate change requires a concerted effort by the whole of the international community”.
Paula Bennett, New Zealand climate change minister, told local media that she “strongly disagreed” with the US.
“It’s disappointing that [Trump] has made that call and I personally believe that so much of what he said is wrong”, Bennett said.
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly said withdrawing from the agreement “will be devastating to our planet”.
— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) June 1, 2017
In a rare statement, released just before Trump’s official announcement, former President Barack Obama said the US had joined “a small handful of nations that reject the future”.
Obama added that he is confident that “states, cities and businesses will stop up and do even more to lead the way”.
Mayors from more than 75 US cities, including Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago, seemed to support Obama’s views by pledging to uphold the goals of the Paris climate agreement despite Trump’s announcement.
In a statement, the “Climate Mayors”, said they “will intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees climate target, and work together to create a 21st-century clean energy economy”.
They also added that “if the president wants to break the promises made to our allies enshrined in the historic Paris Agreement, we’ll build and strengthen relationships around the world to protect the planet from devastating climate risks”.
Many of the so-called climate mayors, including those from Pittsburgh, New York City and Long Beach, tweeted their disappointment:
As the Mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy & future. https://t.co/3znXGTcd8C
— bill peduto (@billpeduto) June 1, 2017
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) June 2, 2017
The blue countries are all members of the #ParisAgreement – the U.S., Syria, and Nicaragua are not.
What a national embarrassment… pic.twitter.com/JBSb34q1ws
— Robert Garcia (@RobertGarciaLB) June 2, 2017
Also reacting with deep disappointment to Trump’s announcement, governors from New York, California and Washington announced the formation of a coalition to fight global warming.
“The White House’s reckless decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement has devastating repercussions not only for the United States, but for our planet,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
“This administration is abdicating its leadership and taking a backseat to other countries in the global fight against climate change.”
The three states represent more than 20 percent of the US gross national product and at least 10 percent of greenhouse gas emission in the country, the governors said.
“If the president is going to be AWOL in this profoundly important human endeavour, then California and other states will step up,” California Governor Jerry Brown also added.
The alliance said it will work closely with other states “to help fill the void” left by the federal government.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) June 2, 2017
‘I am resigning’
The president’s announcement also angered many in the tech industry who had previously expressed their strong support for the Paris agreement.
Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla and SpaceX, said he was making good on his promise to resign from his role on White House advisory councils.
In a tweet, Musk wrote: “Am departing presidential councils. Climate Change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.”
Disney’s CEO Robert Iger also announced that we would quit Trump’s advisory team “as a matter of principle”.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg called Trump’s decision “bad for the environment, bad for the economy” and said it “puts our children’s future at risk”.
Other tech giant leaders, including Apple’s Tim Cook, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, tweeted their disappointment and pledged their companies’ support for fighting climate change.
Decision to withdraw from the #ParisAgreeement was wrong for our planet. Apple is committed to fight climate change and we will never waver.
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) June 2, 2017
Disappointed with today’s decision. Google will keep working hard for a cleaner, more prosperous future for all.
— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) June 1, 2017
This is an incredibly shortsighted move backwards by the federal government. We're all on this planet together and we need to work together. https://t.co/tLEdtG0n1o
— jack (@jack) June 1, 2017
A number of US Republicans, many of whom are known climate change deniers, praised Trump’s decision.
Oklahoma Republican Senator James Inhofe, who has in the past, like Trump, called climate change a “hoax” said the administration is “prioritising the bottom line of hard-working Americans over the agendas of environmental extremists”.