President Trump announced the Thursday airtime for his big decision on the Paris Climate Agreement like it was the penultimate episode of a reality show before he fires Earth from the universe. He was expected to pull out of the climate-change deal, despite pressure from many enormous U.S. companies and threats from Elon Musk not to do so. Trump appeared intent on making the U.S. (along with Syria and Nicaragua) part of a staggering minority — 3 out of 198 nations — who won’t participate in the Paris accords. And in the end, the man who called global warming a Chinese hoax fulfilled a campaign promise by quitting the deal.
Just prior to the press conference, Trump’s intent was fully spoiled. The Daily Beast reported word from a conference call with White House energy policy advisor Michael Catanzaro, who confirmed a 4-year exit process. Catanzaro said that Trump would be “immediately be looking for a better deal” to put “America first.” CNN’s Jim Acosta confirmed that the White House told Congress that the U.S. is outta there, and ABC reported that the withdrawal would be “complete.” Trump finally took the mic, and here’s what he said:
“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens.The United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord … thank you, thank you … but begin negotiations to reenter either the Paris Accord or an entirely new transaction with terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers. So, we’re getting out, but we’ll start to negotiate, and we’ll try and see if we can make a deal that’s fair. And if we can, that’s great.”
Trump then insisted that the deal is damaging Americans and businesses, and he stressed that the U.S. would “cease all implementation” of the accord and its “draconian” aspects. He lamented how unfair it is that the U.S. isn’t allowed to open new coal plants and be economically competitive (for what he called “phenomenal wealth”) under the agreement.
Former President Barack Obama has released a statement of dissent. Obama disagreed with Trump on the so-called harmful nature of the agreement to businesses. He stressed that industries (which had already largely chosen to go low-carbon) were benefited by an accord that “opened the floodgates for businesses, scientists, and engineers to unleash high-tech, low-carbon investment and innovation on an unprecedented scale.”
Alexandra Moe of NBC News tweeted today’s congressional talking points from the White House, which argued that the Paris Agreement is a terrible deal for America that kills jobs and coal while doing “LITTLE for the climate.”
Elon Musk has made good on his threat to pull out of presidential advisory councils.
Where does the U.S. go from here? Mayors of several large cities have vowed to maintain their respective commitments to the Paris Agreement. This would include NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio, who recently tweeted, “We’ll take matters into our own hands.” There will be pushback on the pushback, of course.