President Donald Trump pulled out of the controversial Paris climate agreement on Thursday, saying the decision reflected a desire to give priority to Pittsburgh over Paris.
Trump decided to take bold action on withdrawing from the accord, which former President Barack Obama entered in 2015, by adding no caveats from withdrawal, except to say he might renegotiate a new document after leaving the environmental regulatory agreement.
“We’re getting out, but we will start to negotiate and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. If we can, that’s great. If we can’t, that’s fine.”
“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” said Trump, referring to steel mills in the city that would have been affected adversely by the accord’s regulatory goals.
Trump framed the withdrawal as keeping a vow to protect workers and U.S. sovereignty.
“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers,” Trump said. “We’re getting out, but we will start to negotiate and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. If we can, that’s great. If we can’t, that’s fine.”
Trump made a big show of the withdrawal, packing the White House Rose Garden with media, Cabinet members, and dozens of young staffers.
Trump also irked his critics a bit, adding a Marine band in the back, which played jazz music before Trump’s lengthy comments.
The sweet music likely won’t soothe the liberal rage. Reaction in Europe and Asia was already bad, and liberal billionaire Elon Musk said he was quitting Trump’s business councils of advisers.
At 4:20 p.m., environmental groups were still running ads in favor of the Paris accord on Washington TV stations, almost one hour after Trump said the United States would exit. The effort to influence Trump at the last minute failed.
The withdrawal is a significant victory for Trump’s populist advisers, such as White House official Steve Bannon, who had been lobbying Trump to honor his 2016 campaign pledge to pull out of the Paris accord, which would cap carbon emissions and put heavy strain on power plants and automobile producers.
Tea Party Patriots thanked Trump for keeping the promise.
“[The Paris accord] is a drag on our economy and a bad deal for American workers,” said Jenny Beth Martin, president of Tea Party Patriots. “The requirements in the Paris accord agreed to by the Obama administration could cost our economy almost $3 trillion over the next several decades and have a catastrophic effect on American jobs.”
But Tom Steyer, the environmentalist billionaire and Democratic donor, went full meltdown on Twitter: “If Trump pulls the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement he will be committing a traitorous act of war against the American people.”
And New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “President Trump should know that climate change is a dagger aimed straight at the heart of New York City.”
Reaction to the decision on the Weather Channel was equally hysterical.
The Weather Channel website listed all the “proof” that climate change would overheat the world and flood coastal cities.
CNN’s Fareed Zakaria said, “This will be the day that the United States resigned as the leader of the free world.”
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said in a statement that Trump committed a betrayal.
“Trump is betraying the country, in the service of Breitbart fake news, the shameless fossil fuel industry, and the Koch brothers’ climate denial operation. It’s sad,” said Whitehouse in a statement.
But it is unclear if The Weather Channel and CNN actually listened to Trump’s speech, which noted that, at best, the carbon-emissions caps would reduce the global temperature by 0.2 degrees Celsius — in 2100 — while costing trillions of U.S. dollars.
“Compliance with the terms of the Paris accord and the onerous energy restrictions it has placed on the United States could cost America as much as 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025, according to the National Economic Research Associates,” said Trump. “This includes 440,000 fewer manufacturing jobs … According to this same study, by 2040, compliance with the commitments put into place by the previous administration would cut production for the following sectors: paper, down 12 percent; cement, down 23 percent; iron and steel, down 38 percent; coal — and I happen to love the coal miners — down 86 percent; natural gas, down 31 percent.”
Trump said the cost to the economy would be close to $3 trillion in lost GDP and as many as 6.5 million industrial jobs, while households would have $7,000 less income.
The decision drew praise from at least one Democrat: Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
“While I believe that the United States and the world should continue to pursue a cleaner energy future, I do not believe that the Paris agreement ensures a balance between our environment and the economy,” Manchin said in a statement.
The CEO of Heritage Action heaped praise on Trump, indicating Trump’s decision was well-received by his conservative base.
“Withdrawal from the agreement marks a critical step in unraveling former President Obama’s destructive legacy,” said Mike Needham of Heritage Action. “Not only did Obama make this agreement without approval from Congress, but in doing so he handed more control of America’s energy to foreign officials.”
Trump indicated he was happy to take control back from the Paris accord. Trump said the enforcement mechanisms were so vague that America had basically agreed to ship its coal and oil jobs to China and India.