WASHINGTON -- US President Donald Trump on Friday announced that the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gasses will withdraw from the Paris climate accord, saying the deal agreed by more than 190 nations unfairly benefited countries like India and China, but his decision drew sharp criticism from international leaders, business groups and activists.
The real-estate tycoon said he made the decision as the deal was unfair to the US and badly hit businesses and jobs.
He said India would get billions of dollars for meeting its commitment under the 2015 Paris Agreement and it - along with China - would double its coal-fired power plants in the years to come, gaining a financial advantage over the US.
Announcing his decision from the Rose Garden at the White House as the day temperature hit 26C - warmer by Washington standards, Trump said was been elected to represent Pittsburg, not Paris, drawing support from Republican party members.
He also drew widespread condemnation from entrepreneurs, politicians, world leaders and environmentalist for abandoning the single most important international effort to curb global warming.
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said pulling out of the deal was "abandoning America's leadership in the fight against the climate crisis."
"If President Trump wants nations like China and India to take stronger and swifter action on climate, then he should do so through the accountability and enforcement provisions in the Paris Agreement, not by breaking our word and storming out of the room," Pelosi said.
Tesla founder Elon Musk said he would quit White House advisory councils on business in protest. "(I) am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world," Musk wrote on Twitter.
The much-anticipated decision was, however, a culmination of one Trump's most prominent election promises as he struggles to set aside the distractions caused by accusations of his campaign's ties with Russia in his first 100 days in office. He has previously called climate change a "hoax".
In withdrawing from the agreement, Trump put the US in league with two other nations - Syria and Nicaragua - who have not signed onto the deal agreed by over 190 other nations.
But, Trump said, he was fighting for American businesses and American workers.
"I am fighting every day for the great people of this country. Therefore, in order to fulfil my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the US will withdraw from the Paris climate accord," he said, and vowed to stand with the American people against "draconian" international deal.
Trump said he wanted to negotiate a better deal for the US. And he will stick to the process laid out in the Paris agreement - which could take the US four years to leave the deal coinciding with the next presidential election, meaning American voters could have the final word on the decision.
The Trump administration said he had made phone calls to the leaders of France, the UK, Canada and Germany to explain his decision. He had shrugged off pressure from them during the recent G7 summit in Sicily continue with the agreement.
But minutes after Trump's speech, Italy, France and Germany issued a joint statement saying they believed the treaty was "irreversible" and could not be renegotiated.
Former president Barack Obama, who worked hard to ensure the deal ses the light of the day after nearly two decades of failed negotiations, issued a rare statement saying the Trump administration had joined "a small handful of nations that reject the future".
He said he was "confident" even if the Trump government decided to abandon the deal, "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 also said "not only does this deal subject our citizens to harsh economic restrictions, it fails to live up to our environmental ideals."
In short, according to him, this agreement was "less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States."
"India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries," Trump said.
China will be allowed to build hundreds of additional coal plants. "So, we can't build the plants, but they can...
India will be allowed to double its coal production by 2020.
Think of it. India can double their coal production. We're supposed to get rid of ours. Even Europe is allowed to continue construction of coal plants," he said.
But not everyone was convinced.
Senator Mazie K Hirono said the move was "irresponsible, hasty, and short-sighted."
Senator Ed Markey said Trump was breaking a promise to the world to combat climate change in order to keep an empty campaign promise to the coal industry. "Withdrawal from the climate agreement is a betrayal of scientific fact, economic opportunity, and moral leadership," he said.
The Hindu American Foundation said the US squandered global leadership role. "The withdrawal... contradicts views of the overwhelming majority of scientific, business, energy industry, and spiritual leaders on climate change, as well as the will of the American people all of whom believe the US is better off staying in the agreement," one of its leader said.
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