WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced Thursday he is withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate agreement, making the country one of only three to not follow the accord.
The agreement aims at keeping the global temperature increase below 1.5 degrees Celsius — 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit — above pre-industry levels. Countries are expected to report emissions regularly, and developed countries would support developing countries in their efforts to produce energy with fewer emissions. The United States and 194 countries signed the agreement.
Nicaragua and Syria are the only two countries that did not sign, with Nicaragua objecting because it did not do enough regarding environmental protection. Syria has been in a civil war since 2011.
Trump said at the White House Rose Garden the United States could re-enter the deal under different terms.
“The Paris climate accord is just the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries,” the president said. “Leaving American workers — who I love — and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories and vastly diminished economic production.”
Trump cited a March 2017 report from National Economic Research Associates Economic Consulting during his announcement. The study said the United States would lose 2.7 million jobs by 2025 under the Paris climate agreement.
He added the country would lose $3 trillion in GDP by 2040, with the coal industry production decreasing by 86 percent during this time.
“As someone who cares deeply about the environment — which I do — I cannot in good conscience support a deal that punishes the United States — which it does,” Trump said.
The study was sponsored by the American Council for Capital Formation Center for Policy Research and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.
On its website, the National Economic Research Associates Economic Consulting said it works to “advise public bodies, regulators, and companies on how best to achieve efficiency and financial improvements through restructuring and privatization” when it comes to regulatory economics.
Trump called the Paris climate agreement “nonbinding,” but added the deal placed “draconian financial and economic burdens” on the United States.
The president added coal mines are starting to open up, and that he had been invited to attend a mine opening ceremony taking place “in two weeks.” He did not name the specific mine.
“It’s unheard of,” Trump said. “For many, many years that hasn’t happened.”
West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney said the Obama administration overstepped its boundaries when it signed the accord in April 2016.
“(The Paris climate agreement) didn’t give anybody in the power generating industry, the one’s who use coal industrially, any confidence whatsoever,” he said. “It was just another nail in the coffin, if you will.”
Raney said if another deal is negotiated, it should include input from those affected by the regulations.
“Let’s not just let journalism interpret all the science, and let’s not just the scientists you agree with drive the equation,” he said.
West Virginia officials had a positive reaction to the president’s announcement; West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey called the move “a major victory for working West Virginia families.”
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said in a statement the United States and global community should continue to pursue cleaner energy, but a balance must be made between economic and environmental interests.
“We should seek agreements that prioritize the protection of the American consumer as well as energy-producing states like West Virginia, while also incentivizing the development of advanced fossil energy technologies,” the senior senator said.
U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said Trump made the right decision for West Virginia and the United States.
“West Virginians have suffered tremendous economic calamity as a result of the Obama administration’s anti-coal agenda, and President Obama should not have unilaterally committed the United States to an international climate agreement without the consent of the Senate,” Capito said.
“The Paris Climate Agreement is a flawed deal that puts America’s energy needs and economic growth on the back burner, while transferring money and power to unelected international bureaucrats,” McKinley said in a release.
McKinley introducing two resolutions in December 2015 and May 2017 urging the United States to withdraw.
“We are seeing an end to an era where foreign anti-job, anti-energy policies, pushed by former President Barack Obama, crush West Virginian jobs,” said Mooney, who attended the announcement. “I am proud to have stood with President Trump as he fulfilled his promise to put American jobs first.”
“After years of policies that put America second, we now have an administration and president focused on making America competitive again,” Jenkins said. “President Trump is keeping his word by pulling us out of an agreement that was all pain, no gain for America’s workers, families and economy.”
The reaction to Trump’s move was not as warm outside of West Virginia.
Former President Barack Obama, whose administration led in getting the agreement finalized, said the deal “opened the floodgates” for new energy jobs globally.
“The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created,” Obama said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his nation’s leaders were “deeply disappointed” by the move.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he respected the decision but thought it was a mistake.
“I know that you are a great nation,” Macron said during a new conference. “I know your history — our common history. To all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision by the president of the United States, I just want to say that they will find in France a second homeland.”
The removal process will take four years, leading to an official exit on Nov. 4, 2020, the day after the U.S. presidential election.