Global anger at US for quitting climate pact

US firms, mayors break ranks with Trump as world leaders promise to uphold Paris accord

Protesters at a demonstration in front of the White House in Washington, DC, objecting to US President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate accord.
Protesters at a demonstration in front of the White House in Washington, DC, objecting to US President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate accord.PHOTO: AFP

United States President Donald Trump was left isolated on the world stage and embattled at home as leaders of other countries and corporate entities stood firmly against his decision to pull out of the Paris climate deal.

China, the world's biggest polluter, vowed to battle climate change. The leaders of Italy, France and Germany rejected Mr Trump's suggestion that the Paris Agreement be renegotiated.

Closer to home, two corporate leaders resigned from one of Mr Trump's advisory councils and several US city mayors pledged to "stand for environmental justice".

The most blunt rebuke, however, came from Italy, France and Germany in a joint statement. They said the 197-nation agreement "cannot be renegotiated since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies", noting it offers "substantial economic opportunities for prosperity and growth in our countries and on a global scale".

An avalanche of criticism greeted Mr Trump's decision to withdraw from the 2015 accord that sets non-binding targets to curb emissions that drive global warming.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: "We are deeply disappointed. Canada is unwavering in our commitment to fight climate change."

Singapore also reaffirmed its commitment to the Paris Agreement.

The Least Developed Countries (LDC) group, representing nearly one billion people in the 48 poorest countries in the world, expressed disappointment at the decision, but said global climate momentum will continue with or without the US.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, urged the world to work with Mr Trump on the climate issue. "You shouldn't make a noise about this, but should create the conditions for joint work," he said.

US Vice-President Mike Pence stood by his boss, saying: "What the world witnessed was an American president putting America first."

Yet Mr Elon Musk, chief executive officer of SpaceX and Tesla, and Mr Robert Iger, CEO of Disney, publicly resigned from one of the President's advisory councils to protest against the move.

General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt also expressed disappointment. "Climate change is real. Industry must now lead and not depend on government," he tweeted.

California Governor Jerry Brown, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Washington state Governor Jay Inslee announced a United States Climate Alliance to convene states committed to upholding the Paris Agreement.

Mr Trump defended his decision by saying that he had "elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris". But his sentiment was rebutted by the mayor of the city, Mr Bill Peduto, who said the move had weakened America. He added that Mr Trump was giving coal mining communities "false hope".

He and 68 city mayors vowed to cut greenhouse emissions.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 03, 2017, with the headline 'Global anger at US for quitting climate pact'. Print Edition | Subscribe