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President Trump Decides To Pull U.S. Out Of Paris Climate Agreement


I'm Robert Siegel in Washington where President Trump announced that he is withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate agreement.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.

SIEGEL: This begins a lengthy process that could take more than three years. It fulfills a promise Trump made during his campaign when he often mocked the accord at his rallies. The withdrawal puts the U.S. president at odds with his counterparts all over the world. Nearly 200 countries are signed on to this accord. NPR science correspondent Christopher Joyce covers climate change and joins me now. And Chris, explain more about the process that President Trump has begun here.

CHRISTOPHER JOYCE, BYLINE: It's written into the agreement that a country can withdraw. It takes three years. They have to wait three years. And then once they submit that requests for a withdrawal, it takes another year. So actually, it turns out, if you do the numbers, November 4, 2020 is when the U.S. could formally be out, which is right after the election.

SIEGEL: The president said that he wants to negotiate a better deal. Let's listen to this clip from the speech.


TRUMP: So we're getting out, but we will start to negotiate, and we will 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.


SIEGEL: Chris, what's the likelihood of being able to negotiate a new deal?

JOYCE: I wouldn't bet a dime on it, Robert. In fact, within two hours of the speech, the governments of France, Germany and Italy said, no way we're going to renegotiate this. It took 10 years to get the rest of the world - all of the world in one tent on this Paris climate deal. And it's just very unlikely that they'll try to do it again.

SIEGEL: Chris, I want to talk with you a bit about the tone of the speech, of the president's speech today. This was the essence of his America First politics. It was a very nationalist speech saying this agreement costs us jobs; it costs us money, and we should not be doing anything to benefit people in other countries.

JOYCE: I would use the word bellicose myself. I mean he hit on many of the themes that he hit on during his campaign. And but he even went further. I mean he said that the world is laughing at us, which one might say is sort of a Trumpian concern. He said that the world wants us to redistribute our wealth. He was particularly angry about the global climate fund which is part of the Paris deal. It's a hundred billion dollars a year by 2020 to be distributed from the developed world to the developing world. He didn't mention the fact that a lot of that's coming from private banks and not from governments.

SIEGEL: We should be helping people in Youngstown, Ohio, in Detroit and in Michigan, not in Paris, he said.

JOYCE: Yeah, he said, I was elected to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris. Well, obviously that's true.

SIEGEL: The president said that if there is no Paris Agreement or if the U.S. doesn't take part, the danger to the environment, the harm to the climate would not be that great. Is that true?

JOYCE: There's so many scenarios. There's so many - it's so difficult to predict what's going to happen 15 to 20, 30 years from now. In the short term with the U.S. basically not meeting its Paris goals - probably not a huge difference if you're the atmosphere. This is - we are the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases. But over the next 10 or 20 years, it's going to be China and India and the developing world. After 2020 when many of Obama's restrictions on greenhouse gases were supposed to take effect, it will kick in. It will make a significant difference. But more important, will it leave other countries and make them quit themselves?

SIEGEL: NPR's Chris Joyce, thanks.

JOYCE: Glad to be here. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Christopher Joyce is a correspondent on the science desk at NPR. His stories can be heard on all of NPR's news programs, including NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.
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