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Environment

U.S. Faces Global Criticism For Ditching Paris Climate Deal

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Climate change has been a key factor in increasing the risk and extent of wildfires and other catastrophic weather events. An aerial view shows neighborhoods shrouded in smoke from the Bobcat Fire in California in September. (Photo by David McNew/Getty I
David McNew, Getty Images

Climate change has been a key factor in increasing the risk and extent of wildfires and other catastrophic weather events. An aerial view shows neighborhoods shrouded in smoke from the Bobcat Fire in California in September. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Global environmental groups, climate change advocates, and other officials had sharp words for the United States after the nation officially left the Paris Climate Accord on Wednesday.

Of the original 200 signatories to the agreement, the U.S. is the only country to have abandoned the deal. The goal of accord was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally. The U.S. emits more cumulative carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other country.

The departure is a serious blow to global effort to turn the tide on climate change, several groups said.

The American Public Health Association called the move by the U.S. "unconscionable."

"The move only serves to relinquish U.S. leadership on climate change and ignores the significant risks of a go-it-alone approach to a global threat," the organization said Wednesday.

President Donald Trump first announced his intention to withdraw from the deal in 2017 and formally notified the United Nations last year. The mandatory yearlong waiting period ended Wednesday. This comes as South Korea and Japan committed in recent weeks to going carbon neutral by 2050. China announced in September it plans to be carbon neutrality by 2060.

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Helen Mountford, vice president of climate and economics at the World Resources Institute, said in a statement to NPR that the U.S. "should be
at the forefront of global efforts to stave off the climate crisis."

"The decision to leave the Paris Agreement was wrong when it was announced and is still wrong today," she said.

Global officials also lambasted the American exit from the accord.

Laurence Tubiana, the CEO of the European Climate Foundation and key architect of the Paris Agreement, tweeted early Wednesday that, "It is an irresponsible behavior from a major country."

Sonam Phuntsho Wangdi, chair of the Least Developed Countries Group at UN Climate Change, called the nation's departure "disappointing." Wangdi said the countries considered by the UN to be the "Least Developed Countries", which include Tongo, Cambodia, and Haiti, will especially feel the impact of the U.S.'s decision.

Tibiana went on to tweet that the, "World will move on" and that the "US will come back."

In announcing his decision to pull out of the agreement, President Trump said in 2017 that it was a bad deal for the U.S. "The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries," Trump said. He added that it leaves "American workers — who I love — and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production."

Critics of the Trump administration's departure of the Paris Climate Accord said Wednesday they are holding out hope that a possible Joe Biden presidency will return the country to the deal.

The Union of Concerned Scientists said in a statement that, "The U.S. election has yet to be called, making it impossible to know whether the United States will rejoin the United Nations agreement in 2021."

Rachel Cleetus, the policy director for the nonprofit science advocacy organization, said, "If there is a change in administration, the United States will certainly rejoin the Paris Agreement in 2021 and must do so with enhanced ambition in its climate commitments."

She called the exit from the deal a "shameful act" and one that is "especially cruel" in a time when the rest of the world is reeling from recent devastating climate disasters including Typhoon Goni in the Philippines and Hurricane Eta.

Goni left at least 10 people dead and tens of thousands homeless Sunday. Eta walloped Nicaragua Tuesday with 140 miles per hour winds and flash flooding.

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