World’s leaders reacted to President Donald Trump’s announcement that the US is withdrawing from the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
UN chief Antonio Guterres’ spokesman called President Trump’s announcement “a major disappointment” while the EU said it was “a sad day for the world”.
However, senior Republicans and the US coal industry backed the move.
President Trump said the accord “punished” the US and would cost millions of American jobs.
In an address at the White House, the presdient said he was prepared to negotiate a new agreement or re-enter the accord on improved terms.
“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” Donald Trump said.
The Paris agreement commits the US and 187 other countries to keeping rising global temperatures “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels and “endeavor to limit” them even more, to 1.5C.
Only Syria and Nicaragua did not sign up to the deal.
Donald Trump characterized the Paris agreement as a deal that aimed to hobble, disadvantage and impoverish the US.
He claimed the agreement would cost the US $3 trillion in lost GDP and 6.5 million jobs – while rival economies like China and India were treated more favorably.
President Trump said he was fulfilling his “solemn duty to protect America and its citizens”.
He added: “We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore – and they won’t be.”
Donald Trump did not give a timescale. However, under the agreement, a nation seeking to leave the pact can only give notice three years after the date it entered into force – November 16, 2016.
The process of leaving then takes another year, meaning it would not be complete until just weeks after the US presidential election in 2020.
US payments to the UN Green Climate Fund, which helps developing countries cope with the effects of climate change, will stop.
Former President Barack Obama, who agreed to the Paris deal, immediately criticized Donald Trump’s move, accusing the Trump administration of “rejecting the future”.
Disney CEO Robert Iger and the entrepreneur Elon Musk both resigned from White House advisory councils.
Elon Musk said: “Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.”
However, Republican congressional leaders and the US coal industry backed the move, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell supporting President Trump “for dealing yet another significant blow to the Obama administration’s assault on domestic energy production and jobs”.
The US biggest coal mining company, Peabody Energy, said the agreement would have badly affected the US economy.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called the decision “one of the worst policy moves made in the 21st Century because of the huge damage to our economy, our environment and our geopolitical standing”.
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said he was “deeply disappointed” by President Trump’s decision.
UK’s PM Theresa May, who expressed her disappointment and told President Trump in a phone call that the deal protects the “prosperity and security of future generations”.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he respected Donald Trump’s decision but believed it was a “mistake both for the US and for our planet”.
Japan’s Finance Minister Taro Aso said: “I’m not just disappointed, but also feel anger.”
President Trump indicated he was open to another climate deal, saying he would “begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or a really entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States”.
However, Donald Trump’s words suggested this was not a priority.
“We will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. And if we can, that’s great. And if we can’t, that’s fine,” he said.
During Donald Trump’s election campaign he dismissed climate change as a “hoax”.
French, German and Italian leaders quickly issued a joint statement rejecting a renegotiation of the agreement.
The statement said: “We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris agreement cannot be renegotiated, since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies.”
President Emmanuel Macron reflected the defiance among the remaining signatories, saying “we are fully committed”.
Reworking one of Donald Trump’s own phrases, President Macron added: “Wherever we live, whoever we are, we all share the same responsibility: make our planet great again.”
The Chinese foreign ministry said the parties to the Paris accord “should cherish this hard-won outcome”.
Meanwhile, the Democratic governors of New York, California and Washington all quickly vowed to respect the terms of the Paris deal.