World leaders push back on Trump's decision to pull U.S. from Paris climate accord
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's supporters on Friday cast his decision to abandon the world's climate change pact as a "refreshing" stance for the U.S. that would save jobs, unburden industry and save money.
International leaders and scientists pushed back, pointing to jobs that could be created in green technology and the edge China could be given as a result. China has overtaken the U.S. in transitioning to renewable energy, generating a fifth of its electricity from renewable sources. The U.S. sources only about 13 percent of its electricity from renewables.
In television interviews the morning after Trump's announcement, Vice President Mike Pence and Kellyanne Conway, a top White House aide, defended Trump's decision as a reassertion of America's sovereignty. They both appeared on Fox News' "Fox & Friends."
Pence called Trump's decision "refreshing."
The Paris deal "really put an extraordinary burden on the economy while allowing some countries around the world like China and India go a decade or more without any accountability for reducing C02 emissions," Pence said.
He said the deal would have cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
"In a very real sense, it was a transfer of wealth from the most powerful economy in the world to other countries around the planet," Pence said.
Conway made similar remarks in an interview on Fox News, citing "fairness" to American workers and businesses.
Scientists say Earth is likely to reach more dangerous levels of warming sooner as a result of the president's decision because America's pollution contributes so much to rising temperatures. Calculations suggest withdrawal from the Paris accord could result in emissions of up to 3 billion tons of additional carbon dioxide a year — enough to melt ice sheets faster, raise seas higher and trigger more extreme weather.
While Trump and Pence have suggested the possibility of renegotiating the agreement, the leaders of Italy, Germany and France have said that won't happen. Germany's environment minister told reporters Friday "there will be no new deal with the United States" on climate change and predicted global climate will "survive" Trump's maximum presidential term of eight years.
Barbara Hendricks said other countries will fill the leadership void left by the United States but none will be expected to make up the shortfall in emissions reductions caused by Washington's exit.
Meanwhile, African nations are protesting Trump's decision. South Africa's government calls the U.S. pullout "an abdication of global responsibility."
The U.S. is the world's second-largest emitter of carbon, following only China. Beijing, however, has reaffirmed its commitment to meeting its targets under the Paris accord, recently canceling construction of about 100 coal-fired power plants and investing billions in massive wind and solar projects.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is calling for a constructive dialogue on efforts needed to curb global warming.
Speaking Friday at an economic forum in St. Petersburg, Putin avoided criticizing Trump for the move that has caused international opprobrium.
He underlined the importance of the Paris climate accord, but noted that it's a framework agreement offering a broad room for maneuver for each signatory nation.
Putin also said that Trump's promise to negotiate new conditions for the U.S. leaves hope for reaching a compromise before the Paris deal is set to take effect in 2021. Putin added that U.S. participation is essential for the success of global efforts.
Drought-stricken areas of Africa blame climate change
The U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate deal is being met with despair in parts of Africa that are suffering from severe drought.
Sididi Ould Batna in Mali says he has lost a dozen of his cattle and now the food crisis is affecting families as well.
He says he would tell Trump that the misery is caused by climate change, "and if he doesn't pay attention, the United States will be touched one day by these problems, too."
Vegetable seller Fanta Coulibaly in Mali's capital, Bamako, blames climate change for the lack of rain.
She says the Paris agreement has given her hope, "and I ask Trump to think of us."