U.S. quitting Paris climate deal leaves world shaking its head

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-02 15:21:11|Editor: Tian Shaohui

Protestors rally outside the White House in Washington D.C., the United States, on June 1, 2017 after President Donald Trump announces U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change. (Xinhua/Yan Liang)

BEIJING, June 2 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. decision to quit the Paris climate deal has met with widespread opposition at home and around the world, being criticized as "disappointment" and "mistake" amid vows to commit to the global fight against climate change.

"As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the nonbinding Paris accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country," President Donald Trump announced Thursday at a press conference at the White House.

The decision highlights the Trump label of climate change as "hoax" and honors his campaign pledges to bolster U.S. oil and coal industries and create more jobs, even if such a solution is doubtful.

The U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 Paris deal met with the first backlash at home even before Trump finished his speech when the Governor of California Jerry Brown vowed in a statement that "California will resist this misguided and insane course of action."

Trump's predecessor Barack Obama said in a statement that the Trump administration joins "a small handful of nations that reject the future."

Twenty-five major U.S. firms including Apple, Google, Facebook, Gap, Microsoft and Unilever ran a full-page ad in Washington D.C. newspapers trying to convince Trump that sticking with the Paris agreement is a better choice for the U.S economy and employment.

A total of 61 "Climate Mayors" representing 36 million Americans in cities including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Phoenix, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Seattle, issued an immediate response saying they "will adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement."

The U.S. pledged emissions cutbacks of 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 accounts for 21 percent of an expected global total to the year 2030 under the Paris agreement, think tank Climate Interactive estimates. The U.S. withdrawal deals a huge setback to the global efforts against global warming.

Describing the U.S. decision as "a major disappointment," Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said "The Secretary-General looks forward to engaging with the American government and all actors in the United States and around the world to build the sustainable future on which our grandchildren depend."

The Paris Agreement remains a historic treaty signed by 194 countries and ratified by 147 of them, the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change noted in a statement while rejecting renegotiations as suggested by Trump. It also affirmed a commitment to "continue working with all governments and partners in their efforts to fast forward climate action at global and national levels."

In his response, UN Environment Programme chief Erik Solheim stressed in a statement that climate action is "an unprecedented opportunity" for "a shift to renewable energy" which "creates more jobs, better paid jobs and better quality jobs," and "will save millions of lives and slash the huge healthcare cost of pollution."

European leaders criticized the U.S. withdrawal from the landmark Paris climate agreement as disappointment or mistake. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint statement saying the Paris deal can't be renegotiated.

The U.S. withdrawal "is a historic mistake," Dutch Environment Minister Sharon Dijksma tweeted on Thursday evening. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Facebook he regrets the Trump's decision. "The climate change approach is not only necessary, it offers global economic opportunities."

Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in a statement she is "very disappointed", while Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen said "It's a sad day for the world. Denmark stands ready to continue the climate battle to save future generations."

Miguel Arias Canete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, said: "The Paris Agreement will endure."

"Europe will lead through ambitious climate policies and through continued support to the poor and vulnerable," said Canete, adding that "The EU will strengthen its existing partnerships and seek new alliances from the world's largest economies to the most vulnerable island states."

In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany intends to work closely with China on important global issues such as climate change while attending a business event with visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Merkel said there is "special responsibility for both countries, for Germany and China - in all global issues - for example climate protection, for the prevention of violent conflicts or in international trade policy."

Li reassured China's continued commitment to the Paris deal. Combating climate change has reached a global consensus, Li said, adding "with tremendous efforts, China will steadfastly move towards the 2030 goal step-by-step."

In a speech delivered at the Elysee Palace, French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the Trump decision as making "a mistake both for the United States and for our planet," while stressing that "We will not renegotiate a less ambitious agreement, in any way."

Among U.S. allies, Japan and Australia also voiced regrets over Trump's decision and continued their commitment to the Paris Agreement.

KEY WORDS: Paris climate