World

US pullout a 'global setback'

Global leaders express dismay at US withdrawal from Paris climate accord

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump yesterday said he would withdraw the United States from the landmark 2015 global agreement to fight climate change, drawing anger and condemnation from world leaders and heads of industry.

Mr Trump, tapping into the "America First" message he used when he was elected president last year, said the Paris accord would undermine the US economy, cost US jobs, weaken American national sovereignty and put the country at a permanent disadvantage to the other countries of the world.

"We're getting out," Mr Trump said at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden under sunny skies on a warm June day, fulfilling a major election campaign pledge.

"We don't want other leaders and other countries laughing at us any more. And they won't be.

"The same nations asking us to stay in the agreement are the countries that have collectively cost America trillions of dollars through tough trade practices and in many cases lax contributions to our critical military alliance."

Republican congressional leaders backed Mr Trump.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell applauded him "for dealing yet another significant blow to the Obama administration's assault on domestic energy production and jobs".

Supporters of the accord, including some leading American business figures, called Mr Trump's move a blow to international efforts to tackle dangers for the planet posed by global warming.

Former Democratic president Barack Obama expressed regret over the pullout from a deal he was instrumental in brokering.

"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," Mr Obama added.

COMPLAINED

Mr Trump, who has called climate change a hoax, said his administration would begin negotiations either to re-enter the Paris accord or to have a new agreement "on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers".

He complained in particular about China's terms under the agreement.

International leaders reacted with disappointment, even anger.

"The decision made by US President Trump amounts to turning their backs on the wisdom of humanity. I'm very disappointed... I am angry," Japanese Environment Minister Koichi Yamamoto said yesterday, in an unusually frank tone.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said in a rare joint statement the agreement could not be renegotiated and urged their allies to hasten efforts to combat climate change and adapt.

"While the US' decision is disheartening, we remain inspired by the growing momentum around the world to combat climate change and transition to clean growth economies," said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

A summit between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and top European Union officials in Brussels yesterday will end with a joint statement - the first ever issued by China and the EU - committing both sides to full implementation of the Paris accord.

China's state news agency Xinhua published a commentary that described Mr Trump's move as a "global setback."

China overtook the US as the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in 2007.

With Mr Trump's action, the US will walk away from nearly every other nation in the world on one of the pressing global issues of the 21st century. Syria and Nicaragua are the only other non-participants in the accord, signed by 195 nations in Paris in 2015.

Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who is the incoming head of the UN Climate Change Conferences, which formalised the 2015 pact, said Mr Trump's decision was "deeply disappointing".

Fiji, like many other small island nations, is seen as particularly vulnerable to global warming and a possible rise in ocean levels as a result of melting polar ice.

The spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the action a "major disappointment".

The UN body that handles climate negotiations said the accord could not be renegotiated based on the request of a single nation. - REUTERS

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