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UPDATE: U.S. Withdraws From Historic Paris Climate Agreement, Mayors Say They Will Abide By The Accord

Houston will be part of the 60 cities sticking to the Paris agreement, Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner confirmed.

President Donald Trump speaks about the U.S. role in the Paris climate change accord, Thursday, June 1, 2017, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The United States will no longer be part of the landmark 190-nation agreement to reduce earth-warming gases,  but will begin negotiations to re-enter the agreement, President Donald Trump announced Thursday at the White House.

“We are getting out but we will start to negotiate and see if we can make a deal that’s fair”, Trump said, as he highlighted that although the U.S.  is pulling out from the agreement, the country will look to modify the accord to re-enter it. 

The president said that the nation would stop adhering to the emissions reductions standards immediately. The agreement was nonbinding. Trump painted the original deal as “unfair” to American workers and taxpayers, suggesting that other countries had more favorable agreements.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Conference of Mayors said it strongly opposes Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris  accord and vowed that the nation’s mayors will continue efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming. Houston is one of the cities sticking to the climate accord, Mayor Sylvester Turner said.  

Only few hours after the president’s announcement, Turner confirmed that Houston has joined over 60 so-called climate mayors from across the U.S. in vowing to honor the Paris Agreement’s goals to fight climate change. “Cities are front and center in the fight against climate change and we have to take action.  We must not let the President’s decision today slow our efforts.  As the energy capital of the world and the nation’s largest municipal purchaser of green power, Houston is leading by example and living proof that large, industrial cities can have a robust economy and also fight climate change”, Turner said in a statement. 

The mayors had previously released a statement immediately after the news stressing that the U.S. and other nations need to address climate change to become energy independent, self-reliant and resilient.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the group’s vice president, called climate change a grave threat to coastal communities, the nation and the world. He said that if unchecked, sea-level rise caused by climate change could mean that New Orleans and other coastal cities “will cease to exist.”

Landrieu said withdrawal from the Paris agreement “is shortsighted and will be devastating to Americans in the long run.” 

Steve Adler, the mayor of Austin, said his city won’t stop fighting climate change.

The Paris agreement, considered the framework convention on climate change, requires that all parties report regularly on their emissions and on their implementation efforts. It entered into force on 4 November 2016, 30 days after the date on which at least 55 countries accounting in total for at least an estimated 55  per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions signed in.

 

 “This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries obtaining a financial advantage over the United States”, Trump said. The agreement, the president said, gives “countries an economic edge over the United States,” adding, “that’s not going to happen while I’m president.” He added that he is seeking to create a “level playing field” and establish the “highest standard of living, highest standard of environmental protection.”

And, he stressed: “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”

National reactions

The announcement fulfills one of Trump’s top campaign pledges. But it also undermines world efforts to combat global warming.

The U.S. had agreed under former President Barack Obama to reduce emissions to 26 percent to 28 percent of 2005 levels by 2025 — about 1.6 billion tons.

Obama said right after the announcement that the Trump administration is joining “a small handful of nations that reject the future” by withdrawing from the Paris climate change pact.

 

In a separate statement, mayors of the world’s megacities also committed to addressing climate change despite the U.S. move. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said climate change “poses a unique threat to the future of our planet, and puts in peril the health, prosperity, security and the very survival of our children and grandchildren.” Hidalgo said she’s urging the Trump administration to reconsider the decision.

Former Vice President Al Gore, who has been extremely active on educating about climate change in the last decade, called the decision to exit the Paris agreement “a reckless and indefensible action.”

Gore said the move “undermines America’s standing in the world.” He released the statement as President Donald Trump was speaking at the White House Rose Garden.

The former vice president has defined his postgovernment life as a climate champion. He urges mayors, governors and the business community to take up where Trump is leaving off, especially by focusing on clean energy.

Gore says: “We are in the middle of a clean energy revolution that no single person or group can stop. President Trump’s decision is profoundly in conflict with what the majority of Americans want from our president.”

International reactions

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox  harshly criticized President Trump for withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate agreement.

Fox has clashed with Trump since last year’s presidential campaign, and he let loose Thursday with a series of tweets saying the decision “condemns this generation and those to come.”

Fox tweets of Trump: “He’s declaring war on the planet itself.”

He accused Trump of “leaving a dark legacy just to satisfy your greediness” and surrendering the nation’s future.

Fox concludes: “United States has stopped being the leader of the free world. @realDonaldTrump, single handed, took care of that.”

The European Union’s top climate change official also reacted to say that Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris accord makes it “a sad day for the global community.”

The EU’s climate action commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete , said in a statement Thursday that the bloc “deeply regrets the unilateral decision by the Trump administration.”

Canete says the 2015 accord is “ambitious yet not prescriptive.”

He says the agreement will endure, and he pledged that “the world can continue to count on Europe for global leadership.”

Canete also predicted that the EU would seek new alliances from the world’s largest economies to the most vulnerable island states, as well as U.S. businesses and individuals supportive of the accord.

He added: “We are on the right side of history.”

 

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