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Trump pulls US out of Paris climate accord

US president says environmental accord 'disadvantages' United States to benefit of other countries
'I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,' Trump said (Reuters)

US President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that Washington will leave the Paris Agreement on climate.

Trump, who has called global warming a “hoax”, said the accord’s regulations disadvantage the American economy without making a significant impact on the environment.

He added that he would be open to return to the deal under new terms that do not hurt the US.

"The United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord, but begin negotiations to enter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction in a way that's fair to the United States,” he said.

The climate agreement punishes American workers without placing meaningful restrictions on China and India, he said.

During the announcement, Trump echoed his nationalistic "America First" campaign rhetoric, saying that the environmental deal ensures a "transfer of wealth" from the US to other nations. 

"I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," Trump said.

The US withdrawal comes less than 18 months after the historic pact was adopted in the French capital, the fruit of a hard-fought agreement between Beijing and Washington under former president Barack Obama's leadership.

The Paris Agreement commits signatories to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, which is blamed for melting ice caps and glaciers, rising sea levels and more violent weather events.

They vowed to take steps to keep the worldwide rise in temperatures "well below" 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial times and to "pursue efforts" to hold the increase under 1.5 degrees Celsius.

When asked on Tuesday whether Trump believes human activity is contributing to climate change, White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters: "Honestly, I haven't asked him that. I can get back to you."

'Major disappointment'

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric described the US withdrawal from the climate deal as a "major disappointment for global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote global security".

Meanwhile, Italy, France and Germany said on Thursday they regretted Trump's decision to withdraw from the climate accord and dismissed his suggestion that the global pact could be revised.

"We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated, since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies," the leaders of the three countries said in a joint statement.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron urged all of their allies to speed up efforts to combat climate change and said they would do more to help developing countries adapt.

Obama criticised Trump's decision to withdraw from the agreement, but voiced confidence that US states and businesses will work harder to protect the planet.

"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've got," Obama said in a written statement issued as Trump was announcing the withdrawal.

The mayor of Paris, where the landmark global climate agreement was signed in December 2015, said the US decision to withdraw from the deal was "a mistake that would have dramatic consequences".

"That incredible diplomatic achievement could not have been secured without the decisive role of the United States of America. That is why President Trump is committing a mistake with dramatic and fatal consequences," Anne Hidalgo said.

"Regardless of President Trump’s decision, the great cities of the world, in particular the 12 American C40 cities, remain resolutely committed to doing what needs to be done to implement the Paris Agreement," she said, referring to 91 global cities that have vowed to fight global warming.

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