On June 1, President Trump announced that the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement. He made the announcement in the White House Rose Garden, a beautiful setting for an ugly stream of falsehoods that betrayed a fundamental misunderstanding of the climate accord, the economy, and, well, pretty much everything. (To quote OutKast, “Lean a little bit closer, see that roses really smell like poo-poo-oo.”)
If you missed the 30-minute-plus speech (in which case I envy you), here’s a taste:
- Trump said he would try to renegotiate the treaty.
Not gonna happen. Christiana Figueres, the former executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, had some strong words on the subject. “Apparently the White House has no understanding of how an international treaty works. There is no such thing as withdrawing and then negotiating,” she said, adding that the move was nothing but a “vacuous political melodrama.”
- He called the Paris agreement “nonbinding” and “draconian” . . . in the same sentence.
To be clear, the accord is nonbinding, one of the reasons why Nicaragua refused to join it. Paul Oquist, who led Nicaragua’s delegation at the Paris summit in 2015, argued that the deal doesn’t go far enough to protect the planet and lets rich countries off too easy. Meanwhile, Nicaragua, which contributes 0.03 percent to global emissions, is on track to get 90 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020. (Syria is the only other nation not to join the deal.)
- He explicitly threw poor countries under the bus.
Adding insult to injury, Trump said that the United States will cease contributing to the Green Climate Fund, which helps developing countries finance projects to fight climate change. His claim that the GCF is costing “a vast fortune” doesn’t hold water—President Obama pledged $3 billion to the fund, $1 billion of which has already been donated. Reminder: The United States is the richest country in the world and responsible for 15 percent of global emissions.
- He lauded “coal” eight times and never once mentioned “climate change” or “global warming.”
Once more for the people in the back of the room: Coal isn’t coming back. Renewables, on the other hand, are booming.
- He said, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
Pittsburgh, which overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton, was quick to distance itself from Trump, pointing out that actually, it’s going to stick with Paris.
- He quoted a Wall Street Journal editorial: “The United States under the Trump administration will continue to be the cleanest and most environmentally friendly country on earth.”
To say Americans are not happy with Trump’s decision is an understatement. The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found that 69 percent of registered U.S. voters think the country should stay in the Paris Agreement, including a majority in every single state.
Thankfully, there’s no way in climate change hell that other world leaders, American cities and states, and U.S. businesses are going to let Trump have the final say about our collective future.
The following true leaders have pledged to forge ahead with climate action despite
the negative press covfefe Trump’s ineptitude:
- Literally every other country in the world minus Syria. (French president Emmanuel Macron even released a video en anglais with the baller parting shot: “Make our planet great again.”)
- California, Washington, and New York, which collectively are home to about one-fifth of the U.S. population, immediately announced the formation of the United States Climate Alliance.
- As of June 5, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia have all joined the—now bipartisan—coalition.
- 338 mayors, representing 65 million Americans (and yes, Pittsburgh, too) pledged to “adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement.”
The Sunshine State has had ENOUGH of climate deniers endangering our state and our way of life.— Andrew Gillum (@AndrewGillum) June 2, 2017
- Amazon, Apple, Ben & Jerry's, Facebook, Google, IBM, Lyft, Mars, Incorporated, Microsoft, Netflix, NIKE, REI, Patagonia, Starbucks, Target, Twitter. . .you know what, there are too many to list. You can check them out here.
U.S. Colleges and Universities
- Michael Bloomberg pledged $15 million to help make up the amount the United Nations stands to lose from D.C.’s pullout. The former mayor of New York City also told the New York Times that an unnamed group of mayors, governors, university presidents, and businesses plans to submit its own pledge to the United Nations.
- Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein used his first-ever Tweet to slam the decision.
Today's decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.'s leadership position in the world. #ParisAgreement— Lloyd Blankfein (@lloydblankfein) June 1, 2017
- Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk and Disney CEO Bob Iger both quit Trump’s business advisory panel in protest.
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
- Barack Obama issued a scathing statement that uses the phrase “absence of American leadership” in lieu of Trump’s name.
We’ll update this list as others join.
onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Chris Wheat, who helped make Chicago a greener place from inside its city hall, is now helping empower city governments across the country to realize their many climate ambitions.
Thousands of companies are stepping up where the president has stepped down—to save the planet along with their profits.
From Chicago to Moscow, this artistic collaboration puts climate change on display—and world leaders on notice.
Indianan Jim Brainard has been making the post-partisan case for building sustainable, resilient cities for more than 20 years.
The Rose City, a winner of the American Cities Climate Challenge, will reduce emissions as it revamps its transportation system—part of a new strategic plan called Central City in Motion.
COP24 attendees mocked the Trump administration for its “clean coal” fantasies—while a shadow delegation of climate-conscious Americans quietly worked the room, mending fences.
As Trump pulls out of Paris—and the world sighs in disgust—a bipartisan House caucus may be our last, best hope for taking the politics out of climate policy.
When a bill to sell off 3.3 million acres of federal land hit Congress, the public made a big stink—and won.
The energy secretary is willfully ignoring the renewables revolution that’s taking place all around him.
California cities square off against oil companies in a debate over who’s to blame for a warming planet.
Scott Pruitt is out—but can the new EPA chief escape Pruitt’s shadow of endless scandals, incompetence, and corruption?