White House defends US withdrawal from Paris Climate accord

World Today

The White House is defending its decision to exit the landmark Paris Climate Agreement. It’s dispatching staff to explain the decision – not only to Americans – but also to the world. 

CGTN’s Jessica Stone reports.

The top U.S. environmental official refused to address whether U.S. President Donald Trump believes in man-made climate change. But Scott Pruitt, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, admitted there’s a human factor.

“Global warming is occurring. Human activity contributes to it in some manner,” Pruitt said. “Measuring with precision, in my perspective, the degree of human contribution is very challenging.”

Like the U.S. president, Pruitt said the Paris climate accord unfairly held the U.S. to higher standards than developing nations like India and China. He said the U.S. is not disengaging from environmental protection. It just wants to renegotiate how it goes about it. Pruitt says the U.S. will try to get a better deal, or start over.

But the leaders of Italy, Germany and France said the agreement can’t be renegotiated.

According to the group Climate Interactive, the U.S. was responsible for one-fifth of the total cuts to emissions pledged under the agreement. Backing out will make it a lot more expensive for other countries to comply—especially nations in the developing world.

Climate cooperation has been a lynchpin in friendly U.S.-China relations. Now, it’ll be a source of strain.

In a sign that Trump is trying to manage the fallout from his decision, he spoke with the leaders of Germany, France, the U.K. and Canada.

A White House statement said the president reassured them the U.S. is still committed to a transatlantic alliance and environmental protection.