WASHINGTON: In a letter to Congress, President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he was pulling the United States out of the Paris Agreement because it’s bad for America.

“I cannot in good conscience support a deal that punishes the United States because that’s what it does,” said the US president in an address broadcast live from the White House Rose Garden. “This deal subjects our citizens to harsh living conditions but fails to protect the environment.”

The deal, he said, also gave an undue advantage to other nations over the United States.

“This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the US,” said Mr Trump.

In the letter to Congress, President Trump argues that the Paris accord, signed by the Obama administration in November 2015, was a bad deal for America.

The letter explained that the president’s action fulfils the promise he made during the election to put the American workers first.

“The accord was negotiated poorly by the Obama administration and signed out of desperation. It front-loads costs on the American people to the detriment of our economy and job growth while extracting meaningless commitments from the world’s top emitters like China,” the administration argued in the letter.

Since Mr Trump has been known to change his mind at the last minute, environmentalists were hoping that he would reconsider this decision as well but instead he announced the decision to quit the accord at a late afternoon news briefing at the White House Rose Garden.

President Trump said on Wednesday that he was still listening to “a lot of people both ways” but it seems that ultimately opponents of the deal prevailed.

The decision separates the United States from some of its closest European allies who spent years negotiating the 2015 agreement to fight global warming and pollution by reducing carbon emissions in nearly 200 nations.

During his travels in Europe last week, President Trump was repeatedly asked by his allies and the pope to stay in the deal.

The withdrawal leaves the United States aligned only with Russia among the world’s industrialized economies as China too has ratified the agreement. Since December 2016, 146 nations have signed the deal, agreeing to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

Explaining why he decided to opt out of the deal, President Trump said by 2040, compliance with this agreement would cut US production for paper down 12 per cent, of cement by 23 per cent, iron and steel, by 38 per cent, coal by 86 per cent and natural gas by 31 per cent.

This would also cost the US close to three trillion dollars in lost GDP and and also the loss of 6.5 million industrial jobs, he added. “American households would have $7000 less annual income.”

President Trump said that while punishing the United States, the deal takes no meaningful action against the world’s leading polluters. “China would be able to do whatever they want for 13 years, India’s compliance is contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars of foreign aid form developed countries,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2017

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