Trump withdraws U.S. from Paris Agreement: What to know

President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris agreement on Thursday, fulfilling a campaign promise to step back from the landmark international pact to combat climate change.

Trump said he could not support a deal that “punishes the United States,” arguing that the accord is essentially a “redistribution of American wealth.”

“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” Trump said, adding that the United States would begin negotiations to either re-enter the Paris accord or “a new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers.”

But the leaders of Germany, France and Italy quickly released a statement dismissing the suggestion of revising the agreement. “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,” the leaders said in a joint statement.

Former President Barack Obama, who was instrumental in brokering the Paris agreement in 2015, was quick to criticize his successor’s decision.

“Even in the absence of American leadership; 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,” Obama said in the statement released before Trump had even finished his speech.

The United Nations said it was disappointed with Trump’s decision.

Here’s what we know about the Paris agreement, Trump’s views on the deal and how New York City politicians feel about the decision:

What is the Paris agreement?

The Paris agreement was created by the members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as the next step in fighting global warming and climate change.

The main goal of the agreement is to keep the rise in global temperature from going more than 2 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels, per the UNFCCC. The deal also seeks to strengthen member nations’ efforts to deal with the effects of climate change.

The Paris agreement sets a framework to achieve these goals by mandating member nations to put forth “nationally determined contributions” – essentially benchmarks for countries to adhere to in their efforts to reduce their carbon emissions and overall impact on global warming.

The United States had committed to reduce its emissions from 2005 levels by 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025. 

All parties are required to regularly report on emissions and their actualized efforts to curb them. There is also a provision to evaluate the progress in achieving the agreement’s goals every five years.

How did the Paris agreement come about?

The Paris agreement, the first of its kind, came out of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in, you guessed it, Paris.

On Dec. 12, 2015, the agreement was reached among member nations as a way to seek a “sustainable low carbon future,” according to the UNFCCC.

The agreement was opened for signatures during an event in New York City on April 22, 2016. The agreement “entered into force,” on Nov. 4, 2016, after reaching a “double threshold,” which meant that 55 countries that make up a minimum of 55 percent of global emissions ratified the agreement, the UNFCCC said.

The accord was preceded by the UNFCCC, established in 1992, and the Kyoto Protocol agreement in 1997, both of which take an international approach to slowing man-made climate change.

Who has agreed to join?

Of the 195 countries that signed the Paris agreement in New York City on April 22, 2016, a total of 147 have ratified the deal as of May 2017, per the UNFCCC. The long list of countries that have ratified the agreement includes some of the world’s top carbon dioxide emitters: China, the European Union, India and Japan. Russia signed the Paris agreement, but has not yet ratified it.

The United States, which is the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, had ratified the agreement before Trump announced its withdrawal. 

Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement now puts the country in league with Syria and Nicaragua as the world’s only nonparticipants.

What has Trump said of the climate deal in the past?

By withdrawing from the Paris agreement, Trump has fulfilled a campaign promise made to voters during the 2016 presidential election. Trump has been openly skeptical about climate change on social media over the years and once even went so far as to call global warming a hoax, suggesting on Twitter in 2012 that the “concept” was “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive.”

New York politicians react to Trump’s Paris agreement decision

Mayor Bill de Blasio

The mayor released the following statement on Thursday: “President Trump can turn his back on the world, but the world cannot ignore the very real threat of climate change. This decision is an immoral assault on the public health, safety and security of everyone on this planet. New Yorkers are already experiencing hotter summers, more powerful storms and rising seas, which disproportionately affect already vulnerable communities. On behalf of the people of New York City, and alongside mayors across the country, I am committing to honor the goals of the Paris agreement with an executive order in the coming days, so our city can remain a home for generations to come.”

De Blasio also took to Twitter in response to Trump’s announcement, saying that pulling out of the Paris agreement would be horribly destructive to the Earth and to New York City. 

“The Paris accord was the biggest step forward on climate change that we’d taken in years. It’s unconscionable for @POTUS to abandon it,” de Blasio said in a follow-up tweet.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

The governor released the following statement: “The White House’s reckless decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord has devastating repercussions not only for the United States, but for our planet. This administration is abdicating its leadership and taking a backseat to other countries in the global fight against climate change. New York State is committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Accord regardless of Washington’s irresponsible actions. We will not ignore the science and reality of climate change, which is why I am also signing an Executive Order confirming New York’s leadership role in protecting our citizens, our environment, and our planet.”

Cuomo also announced that he is joining the governors of California and Washington in creating the United States Climate Alliance, a coalition that will gather other like-minded states to push for action against climate change.

At the direction of the governor, One World Trade Center and the Kosciuszko Bridge were set to be lit in green Thursday night as a sign of support for the Paris agreement.

Sen Chuck Schumer 

“President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the #ParisClimateAgreement is a devastating failure of historic proportions,” Schumer tweeted, along with a photo containing a longer statement.

Sen Kirsten Gillibrand

“I shudder to think of what future generations will have to deal with as a consequence of this shortsighted, dangerous decision,” Gillibrand tweeted.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito

The City Council speaker released the following statement: “Withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement is simply the latest in President Trump’s long streak of actions that will have a devastating impact on future generations of Americans. The president’s decision [Thursday] will set our country back while the rest of the world continues to fight climate change through the Paris Climate Agreement, and turn a blind eye to the very real effects of environmental damage – which are already being felt in the city and many other parts of our country. Here in New York City, the [City] Council will continue to push back against regressive ideology and make sure that even as this administration turns a shoulder to concerned citizens across the nation, we will continue to defend and advocate for our communities.”

Rep. Carolyn Maloney

Maloney released a statement that said, in part: “The president’s decision to pull the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement is a huge mistake that will cause significant and lasting damage for the U.S. and the world. Climate change is the single greatest threat to humanity. Sticking our heads in the sand and deliberately ignoring the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change will only hasten and worsen the damage that climate change will cause…Pulling out of this deal ignores our country’s moral responsibility to leave a sustainable planet for our children and future generations to come. I remain committed to doing everything I can to combat climate change and will work with my colleagues in Congress to use every tool at our disposal to prevent this Administration from undermining the worldwide effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Assistant Speaker of the New York Assembly Felix W. Ortiz

Ortiz released a statement saying he “strongly denounces [Thursday’s] decision by the Trump administration to leave the Paris Climate Agreement, jeopardizing the future of our environment and our planet.” He also vowed to introduce legislation calling on Cuomo, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Congress to “push back on the Trump administration’s disgraceful decision.”

City Councilman Mark Treyger

Treyger released a statement that said, in part: “Today, as hurricane season officially begins in the Atlantic region, I am outraged by President Trump’s decision to withdraw our country from the Paris climate agreement. In my role as the chair of the City Council’s Committee on Recovery and Resiliency, it is my responsibility to oversee the city’s efforts to recover from Hurricane Sandy and ensure that we are ready to handle another emergency situation, should one arise… The Paris Agreement is a milestone in the effort to reverse the course of climate change, but it is about more than just the imperative to protect the planet for our children. There is also an imperative for American workers to be part of an evolving economic equation around the world. The green revolution that has gripped other parts of the industrialized world opened the door for opportunities that benefit both the environment and workers. As other nations are advancing wind and other sustainable sources of power, it is economically shortsighted to scorn opportunities for our country to lead the world in green innovation.”

With Reuters