Trump’s ‘America First’ may leave the world a little warmer
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Trump’s ‘America First’ may leave the world a little warmer

Trump said implementing the accord would have wrought havoc with the paper, cement, iron and steel, coal, and natural gas sectors of the American economy.

world Updated: Jun 02, 2017 23:29 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
HIndustan Times, Washington
US President Donald Trump,Paris Accord,secretary of state Rex Tillersen
Trump said he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”(Reuters File)

US President Donald Trump had railed against the Paris Accord as a candidate for the White House, but seemed to have developed second thoughts about it after the election. On Thursday, he overcame whatever doubts he may have had and announced he was pulling America out of the landmark agreement.

“We’re getting out,” Trump said in a speech from the Rose Garden of the White House. “But we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. And if we can, that’s great. And if we can’t, that’s fine.” He used the phrase “new transactions” for it, and reprising his administration’s broader theme of America First, said the deal should be on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people and its taxpayers.

Trump called leaders of France, Germany, Canada and Britain to personally explain to them his reasons for pulling out of the accord and, according to a White House statement, assure them that “America remains committed to the trans-Atlantic alliance and to robust efforts to protect the environment”.

While conservatives largely welcomed the announcement, Democrats were predictably outraged. Former president Barack Obama, one of the architects of the Paris Accord, said in a statement, “This administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future.” The group includes Syria and Nicaragua.

Obama added: “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.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger, former California governor and a registered Republican, also slammed the president. “One man cannot destroy our progress. One man can’t stop our clean energy revolution. And one man can’t go back in time.”

But in a clear message to allies and those putting pressure on him to stick to the accord, Trump said, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”

Trump said implementing the accord would have wrought havoc with the paper, cement, iron and steel, coal, and natural gas sectors of the American economy and would have meant $3 trillion in lost GDP, 6.5 million industrial job losses and $7,000 less in annual income for American households.

As the world’s largest economy, America’s exit will raise questions about the fate of the accord, though China and EU are set to announce an alliance to take on a leadership role determined to protect the Paris Accord, calling it “historic” and “irreversible”.

Trump, who once called climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, fulfilled a key campaign promise by withdrawing the US from the accord. The move was opposed by his daughter Ivanka Trump, secretary of state Rex Tillersen and industry leaders such as Tesla’s Elon Musk, ExxonMobil’s Darren Woods, Apple’s Tim Cook and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

Those in support of the withdrawal were chief strategist Steve Bannon and environment protection agency chief Scott Pruitt and large number of Republican lawmakers who were pushing Trump from outside.

The impact of the US exit on global warming will be severe. Climate Interactive, which tracks global emissions and pledges, estimates that if US doesn’t reach its Paris Accord goal, an additional 0.3 degrees Celsius will be added to global warming by the end of the century. Climate Action Tracker, another outfit, expected a lesser impact — an additional 0.1 to 0.2 degrees Celsius by 2100.

First Published: Jun 02, 2017 23:07 IST