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US to leave Paris climate agreement: Update

01 Jun 2017 22:39 (+01:00 GMT)
US to leave Paris climate agreement: Update

Updates throughout

Washington, 1 June (Argus) — President Donald Trump will withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord, citing potential economic harm from the deal.

Trump today said the US will pull back from the global climate agreement and halt implementation of all related programs in order to protect the country's economy. Instead, the US will seek to reshape the agreement or develop a new one that ensures the "burdens and responsibilities" are equally shared by all nations, Trump said.

"In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the US will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or a really entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the US, its business, its workers," he said.

Trump criticized the non-binding agreement for imposing "harsh economic restrictions" on the US while allowing major emitters such as China and India to wait until 2030 before they begin reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

This amounts to a "self-inflicted major economic wound," Trump said. "We would find it very hard to compete with other countries from other parts of the world."

Trump cited a study by NERA Consulting that said the Paris agreement would cost the US economy more than $3 trillion and result in 6.4mn lost jobs by 2040 as evidence for the need to exit the agreement.

The US under former president Barack Obama had pledged to cut its emissions by 26-28pc from 2005 levels to help achieve the Paris agreement's end goal of keeping global temperatures from rising more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The US is the world's second largest emitter of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The US also pledged $3bn to the Green Climate Fund, a key component of the Paris climate agreement that supports efforts by developing nations to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. Trump called the fund a "scheme to redistribute wealth to other nations."

Supporters of US action on climate were quick to criticize the administration's decision to break with the 195 countries that signed that agreement, warning it could have significant consequences for the country's economy and its relations with the rest of the world. The decision leaves the US as only one of three countries, along with Syria and Nicaragua, to not participate in the pact.

Former US Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy said that because of Trump's "reckless decision," US businesses will lose investment opportunities. "We will cede technology breakthroughs to countries that will take over our leadership role and the rest of the world will question whether the US can be trusted," she said.

But longtime Republican critics of the deal in the US Congress hailed the move as way to protect US workers and the economy.

"President Trump is keeping his word and getting America out of a bad deal," Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyoming). "The Paris climate agreement set unworkable targets that put America at a competitive disadvantage with other countries and would have raised energy costs for working families."

European leaders were quick to condemn the US action, with the leaders of Germany, France and Italy jointly saying the Paris accord cannot be renegotiated. "We therefore reaffirm our strongest commitment to swiftly implement the Paris agreement, including its climate finance goals, and we encourage all our partners to speed up their action to combat climate change," the countries said.

A formal withdrawal from the agreement could take until 2020 to complete.

Shell, which had urged the administration to stay in Paris, said it would "respect" Trump's decision and continue to work with the president on energy policy.

"Shell recognizes that climate change is a challenge that belongs to all of society – not one individual or one country. For our part, we will continue to take internal actions and convene important conversations that acknowledge our role in providing more and cleaner energy," the company said.

Coal producer Murray Energy said it was "extremely pleased" by Trump's announcement. "In following through on his promise, President Trump is supporting America's uncompromising values, saving coal jobs, and promoting low-cost, reliable electricity for Americans and the rest of the world," chief executive Robert Murray said.

The terms of the accord require all participants to wait until at least 5 November 2019 before proposing a withdrawal, and then another year before formally leaving.

That would put a US exit two days after the 2020 presidential election.

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