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Trump Announces US Will Withdraw from Paris Climate Accord

By Peter Heinlein June 01, 2017

President Donald Trump announced Thursday afternoon he will pull the United States out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement signed by his predecessor, Barack Obama, but will look to enter into a new deal.

Speaking from the White House Rose Garden, Trump said he will pull the U.S. out of the Paris agreement and will immediately begin talks to re-enter the deal or create a new deal that is better for American taxpayers.

";We're getting out,"; Trump said, but added he will ask negotiators to seek new terms of the agreement, ";a deal that's fair.";

"The Paris climate accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that damages the United States," Trump said. ";...As of today the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding accord."

The decision comes after days of speculation as to whether Trump would fulfill his promise to pull out of the climate deal.

On Wednesday, at a photo session with visiting Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Trump said he was hearing from "a lot of people both ways" as he considered his options.

Spokesman Sean Spicer said those consulted include U.S. business leaders and foreign heads of states.

The move is a major reversal of Obama era policy, pleasing his Republican base but infuriating environmentalists and America's allies.

The accord, which has been endorsed by 195 countries, is technically legally binding, though its powers for enforcement are fairly weak.

As an example, carbon emissions targets are not binding. The U.S. pledged under the accord to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025. If the U.S. fails to meet that goal, however, there are no legal reprecussions.

Climate change activists were furious even before Trump made the announcement, assuming that the decision would go against their interests.

";Donald Trump has made a historic mistake, which our grandchildren will look back on with stunned dismay at how a world leader could be so divorced from reality and morality," Sierra Club President Michael Brune said in a statement emailed to VOA.

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, the founder of Space X, threatened to resign from the three White House scientific advisory boards if the president actually withdrew from the accord. He tweeted, "Will have no choice but to depart councils in that case."

Economist Gary Hufbauer of the Washington-based Peterson Institute told VOA he expects other countries to remain a part of the accord, and that Trump deciding to leave would ";put the U.S. in a bad light.";

";A statement by President Trump that the U.S. is leaving the Paris accord doesn't really trigger any enforcement action by other countries, and probably is more of a declaration of intent than an actual leaving of the accord,"; he said.

Trump's decision to drop the accord came after a group of 22 Republican senators issued a letter last week, urging him to "make a clean break from the Paris agreement." The letter argued that "remaining in it would subject the United States to significant litigation risk" that could complicate Trump's effort to overturn Obama era regulations, known as the Clean Power Plan.

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