Former US President Barack Obama and other political leaders today slammed Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the historic Paris climate deal, saying he has squandered America’s global leadership and put the country with “a small handful of nations that reject the future.”
“The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created. I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack,” Obama said in rare a statement here.
“But even in the absence of American leadership; even as this administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that 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,” he said.
He said it was the steady, principled American leadership on the world stage that made the Paris agreement possible. “It was bold American ambition that encouraged dozens of other nations to set their sights higher as well,” Obama said.
He did not name Trump, but said that for the nations that committed themselves to the future, the Paris deal opened the “floodgates for businesses, scientists, and engineers to unleash high-tech, low-carbon investment and innovation on an unprecedented scale.”
In a press conference today, Trump announced that the US will withdraw from the accord, calling it unfair for the US.
Jen Psaki, former White House Communication Director, said the announcement was devastating. “When we made a promise as a nation – one that nearly every other government in the world stood behind, one that was popular with both businesses and citizens, and one that safeguarded a prosperous future for our children – we kept it,” Psaki said.
“It’s bad for jobs, as clean energy jobs are growing 12 times faster than the overall economy. It’s bad for our relationship with the rest of the world,” she said and asked fellow Americans to oppose the decision.
The Democratic leadership warned that such a decision would propel countries like India and China in leadership roles.
“Pulling out of the Paris accord defies the overwhelming support for action from credible scientists, the governments of 194 different countries and many religious groups. Faith leaders from Pope Francis to the evangelical community have urged us to act to preserve the beauty of God’s creation,” said Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi said that by walking away from the pact, Trump is abandoning America’s leadership in the fight against climate change and sending a strong message to the rest of the world to design clean energy solutions and create jobs elsewhere.
“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.
However, not everyone shared the view.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said the Paris deal was “simply a raw deal” for America. “In order to unleash the power of the American economy, our government must encourage production of American energy.”
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that the climate deal would have imposed “great costs with little gain” and Trump made the right call in leaving the pact.
Senator Ted Cruz commended Trump for putting American jobs first. “The Paris agreement would have destroyed $3 trillion in American GDP and killed 6.5 million industrial sector jobs by 2040, while even EPA’s own models conclude that it will have a negligible impact on global temperatures. And, it gave Russia and China and India a free pass, while hammering American jobs,” Cruz said.
But Senator Mazie K Hirono disagreed. She said Trump’s decision “is irresponsible, hasty, and short-sighted.”
Senator Ed Markey said Trump broke a promise to the world to combat climate change to keep “an empty campaign promise.”
“Withdrawal from the climate agreement is a betrayal of scientific fact, economic opportunity, and moral leadership,” he said. “Turning our back on this agreement will be a disaster for America – for our businesses, for our health, and for our national security.”
However, Indian-American Republican leader from Virginia, Puneet Ahluwalia, said it should not have come as a surprise that Trump pulled out of the deal. “He has been consistent with his campaign promise and rejected the deal from the beginning. He is focused on creating American jobs, saving tax payers’ dollars and completive edge to US companies,” he said.