President Donald Trump will withdraw the U.S. from the landmark Paris climate accord to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
Trump announced his decision at a White House event on Thursday afternoon.
He said that the U.S. would negotiate for better terms.
“I will work to ensure that America remains the leader on environmental issues,” Trump said, arguing the deal “hamstrings” the United States while “empowering the world’s real polluters.”
It will be a process of almost four years for the U.S. to withdraw from the agreement. It means that the U.S. would exit the accord on Nov. 4, 2020, the day after the next presidential election.
Trump argued that the agreement would cost the U.S. jobs. He argued that the U.S. was carrying the burden for the agreement while other countries were benefiting.
“We don’t want other leaders in other countries laughing at us any more, and they won’t be,” he said.
He also said that he was fulfilling his commitment to “exit or renegotiate any deal with fails to serve U.S. interests.”
“I was elected by voters of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” he said.
President Barack Obama, who considered the agreement a key part of his legacy on the environment, said in a statement that by backing out of the deal the U.S. was joining “a small handful of nations that reject the future.”
“The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created. I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack,” Obama said.
Participant Media CEO David Linde said Trump “removing the United States from the Paris Agreement is a blow to our collective ability to fight the climate crisis in time.”
“But there is an incredible momentum toward solutions to the climate crisis — new technologies exist and are being deployed, overwhelming public support exists for climate action, markets are rewarding clean energy, and of course, global political leaders outside the U.S. will maintain their course under the Paris Agreement,” he added in the statement. “No matter what happens, our job is to keep the momentum moving forward as quickly as we can, regardless of what stands in our path.”
Participant Media, along with Paramount Pictures, produced Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” which opens in theaters on July 28.
The announcement is a huge blow to efforts to address the impact of climate change on a global level, and comes after extensive appeals on the part of businesses, environmental activists, Catholic leaders, past administration officials, and even members of Trump’s own team.
But Trump signaled during the campaign that he wanted to exit the pact, characterizing it as a poor deal that hurt the economy. He has long expressed skepticism about climate change, once suggesting in a tweet that it was a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese.
The Paris agreement — signed by every country except Syria and Nicaragua — was forged in December of 2015 and finalized last year. The participating countries vow to reduce carbon emissions, but it is up to them to decide how to do so.
In recent days, even figures who have been critical of Democrats’ approach to the issue have called for Trump to stay in the agreement.
Mitt Romney tweeted on Wednesday, “Affirmation of the Paris Agreement is not only about the climate: It is also about America remaining the global leader.”
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and founder of SpaceX, also urged Trump to stay in the agreement. Musk said that he would resign from a number of White House advisory councils if Trump decided to go in that direction.
There also was swift reaction from environmental activists within the entertainment industry. Leonardo DiCaprio said that “today, our planet suffered.” He marched in April in Washington at an event to urge greater action on climate change.