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U.S. Allies, Rivals Decry Trump Withdrawal From Climate Accord

  • RFE/RL

WASHINGTON -- U.S. allies and rivals alike have decried President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate agreement and spurned his offer to try to renegotiate the accord.

"We are firmly convinced that the agreement cannot be renegotiated," the leaders of France, Germany, and Italy said in a joint statement on June 1 that added Trump's decision was "regrettable" and called on the rest of the world to "speed up action to combat climate change."

French President Emmanuel Macron told Trump personally in a phone call late June 1 that "nothing was renegotiable" and the two countries would have to confine their joint efforts in the future to projects outside of climate change, French officials said.

"There is no plan B because there is no planet B," Macron said in a televised address afterward. "We will not renegotiate a less ambitious accord. There is no way."

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called Trump's decision "seriously wrong," while even the closest U.S. allies in Britain, Germany, and Japan expressed "regret" and "disappointment" that the world's second-largest greenhouse-gas emitter chose to opt out.

China, which even before Trump's decision had pledged to work with European countries to recommit to the climate accord, called the U.S. withdrawal a "global setback," according to state news agency Xinhua.

Xinhua disputed Trump's assertion that withdrawing will preserve U.S. jobs, but said, "One can only assume that Trump has very good reasons to leave the Paris agreement, and that he knows the implications of U.S. retreat from the landmark deal."

Russia said that while it "respected" Trump's decision, it would not consider abandoning the accord.

"Russia is committed to the agreement, as its elaboration was really painstaking," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told TASS. "It's wrong to claim the Paris agreement is lopsided or unprofitable or takes account of the interests of only one group of countries."

Mixed Domestic Reaction

At home in the United States, Trump got a mixed reaction, with Republicans in Congress praising his boldness in defying 194 other countries that joined the agreement and rejecting what they called a "raw deal" for the United States.

But Democrats deplored his move as "tragedy for the environment" and an "abdication of leadership" on the world stage.

Trump's decision to immediately suspend U.S. compliance with the agreement leaves the United States isolated on the premier global environmental issue, in the company of only two other small countries -- Syria and Nicaragua.

Many U.S. state governors and city mayors quickly pledged to try to counteract Trump's move by combining efforts to adhere to emissions reductions the United States originally committed to under the presidency of Barack Obama.

Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Trump's abandonment of the agreement he helped to negotiate "self-destructive," and "an unprecedented forfeiture of American leadership which will cost us influence...and invite other countries to walk away from solving humanity's most existential crisis."

Former Vice President Al Gore, a champion of environmental causes, denounced Trump's "reckless and indefensible action," which he said "undermines America's standing in the world."

Paris, And Pittsburgh Too

In explaining his decision to walk away from the rest of the world, Trump proclaimed that "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris."

But he got blowback even from the mayor of Pittsburgh, which during the 20th century made its mark as a major producer of steel but today touts itself as a "green" city that is committed to environmental and technological progress.

"Pittsburgh stands with the world and will follow the Paris agreement," the city's mayor, Bill Peduto, tweeted, noting that Trump's Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, got 80 percent of the vote in his city. "It's now up to cities to lead."

Trump, who got overwhelming support in the rural areas of the United States where coal is mined, had stressed the detrimental impact on the economy from the accord, which he said would cost millions of U.S. mining and manufacturing jobs.

He called the decision to pull out a "solemn duty to protect America and its citizens” and restore U.S. "sovereignty" over its own economy and governance.

"Foreign leaders in Europe and Asia should not have more to say with respect to the U.S. economy than our own citizens and their elected representatives," he said.

"The bottom line is the Paris accord is very unfair, at the highest level, to the United States," he said. "The agreement is a massive redistribution of United States wealth to other countries."

Trump said he was ready to negotiate with other countries on new terms that would enable the United States to reenter the agreement, or negotiate an "entirely new transaction" on more favorable terms.

"If we can [strike a new deal], that's great. If we can't, that’s fine," he said.

Pulling out of the climate accord fulfills a major campaign promise Trump made last year at a time when other pledges he made to repeal and replace Obama's health-care law and cut taxes are stalled or languishing in Congress.

Obama said the pullout will hurt Americans and the U.S. standing in the world, but expressed confidence that U.S. states, cities, and businesses will fill in the vacuum left by Trump by sticking with their commitments to curb climate change.

EU Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said, "Today is a sad day for the global community, as a key partner turns its back on the fight against climate change."

But he said "the world can continue to count on Europe for global leadership in the fight against climate change."

During a Group of Seven summit in Italy last week, all the major industrialized countries except the United States had reaffirmed their "strong commitment" to the implementation of the agreement.

The EU's Juncker said he had told Trump during the summit that withdrawing from the accord wouldn't be easy and will take years.

"The Americans can't just leave the climate protection agreement," he said. "Mr. Trump believes that because he doesn't know the details."

With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and dpa
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