Trump: We are getting out of Paris climate deal

President Trump rejected the Paris climate change agreement in thorough terms on Thursday, calling it “unfair at the highest level to the United States.”

Trump said he will formally withdraw the U.S. from the pact, an act that will separate the U.S. from all of its allies and most of the world.

Trump, who fulfilled a campaign promise with his action, cast the decision as one that puts the United States first — a central theme of his presidency.

“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 in a sunny outdoor ceremony at the White House Rose Garden.

“The bottom line is that the Paris accord is very unfair at the highest level to the United States,” Trump said.

The president added he will “begin negotiations to re-enter — whether the Paris accord, or really, an entirely new transaction — on terms that are fairer to the United States, its business, its workers, its people, its taxpayers. 

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“We are getting out, but we will start to negotiate and we will see if we can make a deal that is fair.”

It is unlikely new negotiations on a deal will go far.

The decision snubbed the nearly 200 nations who came together for the first major worldwide agreement that aims to tackle climate change.

World leaders from Europe, Asia and elsewhere had urged Trump in recent days to stay in the pact, and they immediately criticized his decision.

The leaders of France, Italy and Germany said they would not renegotiate the climate deal, despite Trump's urgings. 

The move is a major rebuke of former President Obama’s environmental and diplomatic agenda. Obama had led worldwide negotiations for the non-binding pact in 2015, as part of an aggressive second-term climate agenda.

Trump is skeptical of the science behind climate change, and has sought to roll back Obama’s environmental regulations as part of an “America First” agenda that reverses many of Obama’s actions on trade, defense and international affairs.

“The Paris climate accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers — who I love — and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production,” he said.

In a rare post-presidency statement, Obama on Thursday said Trump’s rejection of the deal means he is joining “a small handful of nations that reject the future.”

“The nations that remain in the Paris agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created,” he said.

“I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack. But 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.”

Trump said Thursday that other leaders wanted the U.S. to stay in the deal because it “keeps our magnificent country tied up and bound down by this agreement.” 

Trump’s speech had the air of celebration for an embattled president in desperate need of a win. 

A Marine Corps band played jazz music before Trump spoke, unusual for a policy announcement. After Trump spoke, Pruitt praised his leadership on the issue. 

Supporters and senior staff members showered the president with applause as he announced the U.S. would exit the deal. 

Stephen Bannon, the president's chief counselor who urged him to exit the deal, sat in the front row beside National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, who wanted to remain in the pact, as well as national security adviser H.R. McMaster and chief of staff Reince Priebus. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt sat nearby and spoke briefly after the president. 

But the event was also notable for who was not present: opponents of leaving the agreement within the administration.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Ivanka Trump and her husband and senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner, were not spotted at the Rose Garden event. 

Ivanka Trump and Kushner, both observant Jews, were not working Thursday in observance of the holiday of Shavuot, an aide said. Kushner did show up at the White House briefly for a pre-planned meeting, according to the aide. 

Trump had been under strong pressure in recent months, both from within his administration and outside it, to either remain in the pact or leave it.

Environmentalists, joined by some major businesses, world leaders and health advocates, strongly support the accord and quickly criticized Trump for withdrawing.

Tesla’s Elon Musk, who had reached out to Trump this week telling him to stay in, said he would be “departing presidential councils” on which he served because of the Paris decision.

The goal of the Paris agreement is to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, a somewhat arbitrary goal that policymakers centered upon. But analysts concluded that the pledges in the agreement would exceed the 2-degree mark.

Obama ensured in the international negotiations that the emissions limits would not hold the force of international law. The alternative would likely have required it to get ratification as a treaty by two-thirds of the Senate, a near impossibility.

To the agreement’s supporters, the withdrawal of such a major nation destroys the chance of real, internationally coordinated action to fight climate change.

But Republican lawmakers and conservatives applauded Trump for abiding by his campaign promise. Opponents of the pact cited fossil fuel-funded surveys that said it would deprive the country of $3 trillion in GDP and 6.5 million jobs, since compliance would necessitate restrictions on the use of fossil fuels.

Bannon and Pruitt were the leading voices against the accord in the administration. Pruitt is said to have pushed conservative and industry voices to come out strongly against Paris.

A letter sent late last month by nearly two dozen GOP senators, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellTrump’s isolation grows Ellison: Trump has 'level of sympathy' for neo-Nazis, white supremacists Trump touts endorsement of second-place finisher in Alabama primary MORE (R-Ky.), also weighed heavily on Trump’s decision.

The agreement consisted of individual greenhouse gas limits that each of the nearly 200 nations determined for themselves. Obama’s pledge for the United States, the current No. 2 emitter in the world, was a 26 to 28 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

That pledge was based on the policies he had begun implementing, which Trump has started to roll back.

Trump has argued the Paris deal puts the American economy at a disadvantage because other nations — primarily China and India — are not aiming to cut their emissions in real terms under the deal.

Trump took particular aim Thursday at the Green Climate Fund, a United Nations-administered account that international officials hope will inject to $100 billion in annual climate adaptation financing for poor by 2020. 

Obama pledged $3 billion for the fund and was able to spend $1 billion. Trump said future payments for that fund will now stop. 

“This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining financial advantage over the United States,” Trump said Thursday. 

“The rest of the world applauded when we signed the Paris agreement. They went wild, they were so happy, for the simple reason that it put our country, the United States of America, which we all love, at a very, very big economic disadvantage.”

- Jordan Fabian contributed.

- Updated at 5:22 p.m.