World Leaders Express Dismay at US Withdrawal From Paris Accord

World leaders and environmental groups have expressed their disappointment with U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the landmark Paris climate accord, the global effort to deal with the effects of climate change.

The leaders of Germany, France and Italy, in a highly unusual move, issued a joint statement expressing “regret” at the decision. 

“We are firmly convinced that the agreement cannot be renegotiated,” they said, putting a stop to the U.S. leader’s belief that he could re-negotiate the United States back into the Paris Accord.  Trump said in announcing the U.S. withdrawal that he was open to “negotiations to re-enter the Paris Accord.”

Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president, told a conference of the Confederation of German Employers in Berlin that “the Americans can’t just get out of the agreement,” adding that “it takes three to four years” to pull out.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said China will proceed “steadfastly” with the Paris deal and encouraged other countries to do the same.

China is the world’s biggest polluter.  The U.S. is second.

Trump said the United States was “getting out” of a deal he said imposed “draconian” burdens costing billions of dollars and millions of U.S. jobs. He described the pact as  “very unfair” to the United States and beneficial to other major polluters, like China and India.

The Paris agreement commits signatories to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, which is blamed for melting ice caps and glaciers, rising sea levels and more violent weather events. The United States will join Nicaragua and Syria as the only countries that are not part of the agreement.

“This is a decision that is a betrayal, not just of U.S. citizens, not just of the citizens right across the world, but indeed it’s a betrayal of our children and all future generations.” said Richard Di Natale, Australian Greens Party leader.  “Donald Trump has shown with this decision that the U.S. no longer has any claim to global leadership.”

Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary said Friday Trump’s decision was “regrettable” and that “Japan had been hoping to cooperate with the United States under the Paris Climate Accord.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said in a televised statement in both French and English that he believed Trump has made a historic mistake.  Macron said U.S. scientists and entrepreneurs would ‘find in France a second homeland,” inviting them to live in France where they could “work together on concrete solutions for our climate, our environment.”  Macron added in France they would work to “make our planet great again,” a play on Trump’s campaign slogan to “make America great again.”

Koichi Yamamoto, Japan’s environment minister said of the U.S. departure from the Paris Accord: “It’s as if they’ve turned their back on the wisdom of humanity.”  He added, “In addition to being disappointed, I’m also angry.”

Fiji’s prime minister said Trump’s announcement was “deeply disappointing.”  Voreqe Bainimarama, who will serve as president of U.N. climate talks in Germany later this year, said “While the loss of America’s leadership is unfortunate, this is a struggle that is far from over.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his disappointment in a telephone call with Trump.  The Canadian leader, however, said he is encouraged by “the growing momentum around the world to combat climate change and transition to clean growth economies.”

“The Paris Agreement provides the right global framework for protecting the prosperity and security of future generations, while keeping energy affordable and secure for our citizens and businesses,” British Prime Minister Theresa May told Trump in a telephone conversation. 

Environmental group Climate Action Network said the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris agreement “signals that the Trump Administration is in total discord with both reality and the rest of the world.”

Greenpeace said; “By withdrawing from the Paris agreement, Trump has turned the U.S. from a climate leader into a climate deadbeat.”

Oxfam France said the decision was “shameful and irresponsible.”

“The future is in newer, cleaner and renewable technologies, not in fossil fuels,” said Venki Ramakrishnan, president of Britain’s illustrious Royal Society.  “Such technologies will also help in our fight against air pollution and ensure greater energy security globally.  President Trump is not putting America first, he is tethering it to the past.” 

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