Politicians and Environmentalists React After Trump Pulls US From Paris Agreement

By Yessenia Funes Jun 02, 2017

President Donald Trump announced yesterday (June 1) that the United States will be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, where 195 signatories successfully came together—for the first time—to agree on an international plan to combat the threat of climate change after 21 years of discussions. Withdrawal will take up to four years, which would make the agreement a crucial issue in the next presidential election.

This decision came after months of debate within the administration about whether to stay in the landmark international climate agreement. Trump wants to see the Paris Agreement remove the nationally determined contributions, or NDCs, that each party is supposed to commit to and provide info on to the United Nations.

He also disapproves of the Green Climate Fund, created as part of the United Nations Convention Framework on Climate Change (UNCFCC), under which the Paris Agreement sits, to allocate resources to developing nations that will bear the brunt of climate change’s impacts. Wealthier developed nations, like the United States, that contributed the most to climate change are expected to financially assist the developing world through this fund.

He announced at yesterday’s press conference: “The United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord but begin negotiations to re-enter 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 will see if we can make a deal that’s fair.”

World leaders have made it clear that is an unlikely option. The leaders of France, Germany and Italy issued a joint statement that the accord is “irreversible” and that they “firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated.” 

Trump went on to say that the U.S. will have the cleanest water and air without the agreement. “As someone who cares deeply about the environment, which I do,” the president said during the press conference, “I cannot in good conscience support a deal that punishes the United States, which is what it does.”

The Conference of the Parties began in 1995 under the UNCFCC in Berlin to gather world leaders on how to respond to climate change. Twenty years later in Paris, nations decided they would limit global temperature rise this century to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels—via the Paris Agreement. (Climate justice advocates argue the agreement should have set the goal to 1.5 degrees Celsius because anything above that puts island nations at risk.)

The agreement text was finalized during the 2015 Conference of the Parties in Paris and entered into force in November 2016 after gaining 55 signatories. Now, 195 nations have signed on, though 48 still need to ratify. The only countries that did not join the agreement are Syria and Nicaragua. The United States is now the third.

While the agreement was non-binding and any commitments were voluntarily, it was still championed by environmentalists for being a step in the right direction. It was seen as one of former President Barack Obama’s greatest achievements.

Below, a look at Obama’s reaction, as well as others from politicians, environmentalists and various stakeholders.

Vien Truong, executive director of Green for All

Domestically, Hispanics face an increased vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and pollution. Whether it’s breathing toxic air from a nearby power plant, drinking unclean water, worrying about not having a home due to rising sea levels, or suffering from air quality-related respiratory illnesses, climate change is keeping many Latinos and other underrepresented communities from fully benefiting from a healthy and productive quality of life, which in turn affects our economy and productivity as a nation. None of these adverse and disproportionate impacts will be improved without international agreements like the Paris Climate Agreement because pollution does not stop at borders.

Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto, one of 50+ mayors to commit to the agreement via local policy, reacting to Trump’s mention of Pittsburgh in his speech

Tom Goldtooth, executive director of Indigenous Environmental Network

Donald Trump is showing us the art of breaking a deal. By abandoning the Paris Agreement, this administration will further perpetuate environmental racism and climate injustice against indigenous peoples experiencing the worst effects of climate change across the globe. We’ve stated before that the Paris Agreement falls short of embracing the sort of climate solutions that lift up human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples. Regardless of its shortcomings, it is critical that the United States be held accountable for its contributions to the climate chaos we are seeing across the globe and to take ambitious action to meet the Agreement’s goal to limit temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Backing out of this agreement continues a long history of broken promises and threatens the vital and sacred life cycles of Mother Earth.

Asad Rehman, senior campaigner of international climate for Friends of the Earth

Faith Gemmill, vice chair of Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands

The Trump Administration is once again pandering to the fossil fuel companies with this action which ultimately sacrifices our future as indigenous peoples of the Arctic.  We are seeing climate change impacts in Alaska, the permafrost is melting, the breeding patterns of our salmon are changing. We believe that for our survival we need keep 100 percent of the oil and gas in the Arctic in the ground instead of lifting regulatory mechanisms such as the Paris Agreements, which would give us a fighting chance.

Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of UPROSE

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker

Director Ava DuVernay ("Selma")


Watch the live stream of the president’s announcement above or here. Find more reactions on Twitter with #ParisAgreement.