The historic Paris agreement – signed by virtually every country on Earth – is a vow to work together to avert the worst impacts of climate change by holding the increase in global temperatures to less than two degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.
In abandoning the pact – one he called a 'bad deal for America' – President Trump ignited a firestorm of criticism. The president had long criticized the 2015 agreement, claiming it would force the country to abandon its world-leading reserves of coal and create considerable job loss.
In keeping with his campaign message of representing American workers, the President framed his decision as one in solidarity with the U.S. people: 'I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," Mr. Trump said.
Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto, however, was quick to distance himself – and his city – from Mr. Trump's stance:
As the Mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy & future. https://t.co/3znXGTcd8C— bill peduto (@billpeduto) June 1, 2017
Trump also mentioned Youngstown, Ohio, saying "It is time to put the people of Youngstown, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; and Pittsburgh, Pa. back to work."
"Nothing about the U.S. withdrawal would seem to indicate any form of job creation for the city of Youngstown," said Youngstown Mayor John McNally to the
Youngstown Vindicator. "The Trump administration has never discussed how the withdrawal would better the lives of Youngstown residents. So while it's nice to hear our city's name, there is no substance to the thought of putting us with other cities before Paris."
By Friday morning, dozens of U.S. mayors signed a pact vowing to ' adopt, honour and uphold' the goals enshrined by the Paris agreement, regardless of the U.S.'s official position.
Across the world, political and business leaders alike were quick to condemn the U.S. move, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
We are deeply disappointed that the United States federal government has decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 1, 2017
Japan's Foreign Ministry called the U.S. withdrawal "regrettable," while the country's environment minister in Tokyo said more bluntly: "I'm not just disappointed, but also feel anger." South Africa's official statement called the decision "an abdication of global responsibility."
Former U.S. President Barack Obama, who helped to broker the agreement in 2015, took aim at the 'absence of American leadership.'
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Trump's decision 'extremely regrettable, and that's putting it mildly.'
Speaking to lawmakers Friday Merkel said, "To everyone for whom the future of our planet is important, I say let's continue going down this path so we're successful for our Mother Earth."
The comment received applause.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, who faces a general election on June 8, "expressed her disappointment with the decision," and stressed that the U.K. remained committed to the Paris agreement. For political rivals, her reaction wasn't strong enough. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn accused May of "subservience" to the President Trump.
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox, who has been a vocal critic of Mr. Trump's plan to build a wall along the Mexico-U.S. border, chimed in on the climate decision, too.
Some of the biggest names in business world also weighed in.
Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 1, 2017
As a matter of principle, I've resigned from the President's Council over the #ParisAgreement withdrawal.— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) June 1, 2017
Disappointed with today’s decision on the Paris Agreement. Climate change is real. Industry must now lead and not depend on government.— Jeff Immelt (@JeffImmelt) June 1, 2017
Tesla Inc Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk and Walt Disney Co CEO Robert Iger said on Thursday they would leave White House advisory councils.
Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg decried the U.S. move, saying it "puts our children's future at risk."
Trump's move cheered
But Mr. Trump's withdrawal from the Paris pact wasn't entirely without support. As reported by the Associated Press, a retired coal miner in Kentucky applauded the move: "He's keeping his promise that he's going to help get the coal jobs back, help people get back to work, and that's what we need, anywhere in this country," said Kenny Smith.
Trump aide Kellyanne Conway defended the president's position, telling Fox News: "The president believes in a clean environment."
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence backed Mr. Trump, saying the Paris deal was "a transfer of wealth from the most powerful economy in the world to other countries around the planet."
Our President is choosing to put American jobs, American consumers, American energy, and American industry first. https://t.co/y2OpdTMDu7— Vice President Pence (@VP) June 1, 2017