President Donald Trump is withdrawing the United States from the 2015 Paris climate change agreement. This makes the U.S. one of three countries to reject the international accord.
Trump said the agreement hurts the U.S. economy and American workers.
“The Paris accord would undermine our economy, hamstring our workers, weaken our sovereignty, impose unacceptable legal risk and put us at a permanent disadvantage to the other countries of the world.”
Trump condemned the accord for requiring the U.S. to pay other countries “trillions” of dollars. Now, he says, he is putting America first.
“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
Trump said he would look for a new deal that would “protect the environment, companies, citizens and the country.” But he added, “if we can, great. If we can’t that’s fine.”
The Paris accord
The agreement was made to fight global warming and pollution by reducing carbon emissions. Many scientists and world leaders say man-made greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide are slowly warming the planet, and hurting the environment. Carbon dioxide comes from burning fossil fuels.
Others question the science. They say that climate changes are natural, and they say that the Paris accord will slow economic growth and cause higher energy costs.
195 countries supported the 2015 Paris agreement. Nicaragua and Syria did not. President Barack Obama signed the agreement shortly before he left office.
The former president criticized Trump’s decision.
In a statement he said nations that stay in the Paris agreement get “benefits in jobs and industries created.” He added, “even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.”
Many American business leaders have also asked Trump—the businessman, and now president -- to stay in the agreement. They include heads of Apple, Google, Tesla and Walmart. Even fossil fuel companies such as Exxon Mobil, BP and Shell say the United States should stay in the deal.
Michael Brune heads the Sierra Club, a group that supports environmental protection. He said in a statement, “Americans will look back at Donald Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement as one of the most ignorant and dangerous actions ever taken by any President.”
Support for Trump’s decision
Scott Pruitt, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, spoke after Trump.
He praised Trump’s decision, and said American businesses have been a leader in reducing pollution.
“For that reason, Mr. President, you have corrected a view that was paramount in Paris. That somehow the United States should penalize it’s own economy, be apologetic, lead with our chin, while the rest of the world does little. Other nations talk a good game, we lead with action not words.”
Freedom Works is a group supporting smaller government. In a statement it said staying with the agreement would cost the U.S. economy more than $2 trillion and nearly 400,000 jobs.
It called the agreement a “misguided treaty.”
Twenty-two senators from Trump’s Republican Party signed a letter last week supporting withdrawing from the agreement. It said that “remaining in it would subject the United States to significant litigation risk” that could complicate Trump’s effort to overturn Obama era regulations, known as the Clean Power Plan.
U.S. allies around the world have expressed concern about what will happen if America pulls out of the agreement.
European leaders and Pope Francis pushed Trump to stay in the deal while he was travelling last week.
In a speech in Berlin Wednesday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said that fighting climate change is a “global consensus” and an “international responsibility.”
“China in recent years has stayed true to its commitment,” said Li .
Critics also say that U.S. withdrawal from the agreement will leave a leadership hole that will be filled by China or Russia.
I’m Anne Ball.
Anne Ball wrote this story for Learning English based on reports from VOA’s Peter Heinlein and the Associated Press. Hai Do was the editor. We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and visit us on our Facebook page.
Words in This Story
hamstring - v. damage or ruin
sovereignty - n. a country's independent authority
greenhouse gas - – n. carbon dioxide and other gases that scientists have linked to rising temperatures in Earth’s atmosphere
fossil fuels - n. a fuel such as coal, oil or gas.
penalize - v. punish or give unfair advantage
litigation - n. lawsuit
consensus - n. a general agreement about something