Trump: U.S. to Exit Paris Climate Deal

Donald Trump Paris Climate Agreement 2 - Getty - H 2017
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"We're getting out, but we will start to negotiate and see if we can make a deal that's fair. And if we can, that's great. And if we can't, that's fine."

President Donald Trump kept one of his central campaign promises by pulling the United States from the Paris global climate pact.

"In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord, but begin negotiations to reenter either the Paris Accord or an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its business, its workers, its people, its taxpayers," Trump said Thursday from the White House Rose Garden in a televised address. "So we're getting out, but we will start to negotiate and see if we can make a deal that's fair. And if we can, that's great. And if we can't, that's fine." 

He said the U.S. will stop honoring the non-binding parts of the deal "as of today."

The "America first"-themed speech marks the U.S. joining Nicaragua and Syria as the only three UN countries not signed up to the historic agreement. Trump said he was there to represent the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris. (The mayor of Pittsburgh promptly replied.)

Trump appeared to go off script later in his address when asking the "obstructionists" to sit down with him to become "non-obstructionists" and negotiate terms that are "fair" to U.S. workers. Or, negotiate a new deal that is "fair to our taxpayers." The president said the deal as-is "hamstrings" the U.S. while empowering some of the world's "top-polluting countries."

Trump built suspense around his official decision on the Paris climate deal by promoting the event on his personal Twitter account. He first tweeted Wednesday morning that his announcement would be made "over the next few days," and then followed that up with an announcement that night: "I will be announcing my decision on Paris Accord, Thursday at 3:00 P.M. The White House Rose Garden. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"

Trump set a celebratory mood ahead of the event. Members of the White House press corps documented the jazz band that played ahead of the president's arrival.

Mid-announcement, clapping could be heard from those in attendance.

Under the agreement, the U.S. had agreed to reduce the country's pollution emissions to 28 percent of 2005 levels by 2025. Abandoning the Paris Accord isolates the U.S. from its international allies — leaving America aligned only with Russia among the world's industrialized economies — who spent years negotiating the deal, among some 200 nations, to fight global warming. Pulling out of the agreement will take three-and-a-half years under the standard treaty agreement.

Former President Barack Obama immediately released a statement on Trump's decision.

"A year and a half ago, the world came together in Paris around the first-ever global agreement to set the world on a low-carbon course and protect the world we leave to our children," he said in the statement, which credited "bold American ambition" in the landmark global move. "The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in job and industries created. I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack. 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 got."

Al Gore and the producers behind his new climate-change documentary An Inconvenient Sequel also led the chorus of outcry, condemning the withdrawal as a "reckless and indefensible action."

Said vocal environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio, "Today, our planet suffered. It’s more important than ever to take action."

Vice President Mike Pence introduced Trump on Thursday by touting his accomplishments. "Thanks to President Donald J. Trump, America is back," he said.

When Trump first took the podium, he announced his economic and job creation accomplishments since taking office, addressed the terror attack in Manila and discussed take-aways from his recent trip abroad.