Donald Trump has confirmed the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement in a Whitehouse address Friday morning (AEST).
President Trump signalled his objection to the accord during his 2016 election campaign saying it was bad for US industry.
The US is the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
The withdrawal amounts to a rebuttal of the global effort to pressure the US to remain a part of the agreement, which has been signed by 195 nations.
Foreign leaders, business executives and President Trump’s own daughter have lobbied for the US to remain a part of the accord, but ultimately lost out to conservatives who claim the plan is bad for the United States.
“In order to fulfil my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but being negotiations to reenter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction under terms that are fair to the United States,” President Trump said from the White House Rose Garden.
“We’re getting out. And we will start to renegotiate and we’ll see if there’s a better deal. If we can, great. If we can’t, that’s fine,” he said.
President Trump’s announcement will spark a lengthy withdrawal process that won’t conclude until November 2020 – the same month he’s up for re-election.
“The United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord,” Mr Trump said, adding the US will also end the implementation of carbon reduction targets set under Obama administration.
It will also include ceasing contributions to the United Nations Green Climate Fund, which the President said was “costing the United States a fortune.
“As someone who cares deeply about our environment, I cannot in good conscience support a deal which punishes the United States.
“The Paris accord is very unfair at the highest level to the United States,” Mr Trump said.
The withdrawal puts the United States in the company of Syria and Nicaragua as the world’s only non-participants in the Paris agreement.
To date, 147 of the 195 countries have ratified the accord, including the US, where it entered into force last November.
Under the pact, virtually every nation voluntarily committed to combat climate change with steps aimed at curbing global emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide generated from burning of fossil fuels that scientists blame for a warming planet, sea level rise, droughts and more frequent violent storms.
It was the first legally-binding global climate deal.
President Trump was withering in his criticism of the pact, which he said was a humiliating defeat for American workers and offered an unfair advantage to foreign nations.
“At what point does America get demeaned? At what point do they start laughing at us as a country?” he asked.
“We want fair treatment,” the President said. “We don’t want other countries and other leaders to laugh at us anymore.”
Australia remains committed
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed Australia would remain committed to the Paris climate accord despite regardless of the position of the United States.
“I repeat today, what I said on the 16th of November when the treaty was ratified: when Australia makes a commitment to a global agreement, we follow through and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Mr Turnbull told Parliament on Thursday.
“We are committed to the Paris agreement, and we’re on track to meet our targets.”
Labor’s energy spokesman Mark Butler said it was vital that other nations remained committed to the treaty.
“Particularly the EU and China I think will step up and take more of the leadership roles that we’ve seen America play in the post-war period. India has also really stepped up its efforts under Prime Minister Modi,” he told Sky News.
“So it is certainly not a catastrophe and it is also not particularly surprising given what Donald Trump said about climate change during the course of the last US Presidential election.”
Despite the government saying it would stay the course, Greens environment spokesman Adam Bandt urged the Prime Minister to do more.
“What is the point of having a relationship with the United States if you can’t use it to ask the United States to do things that are in Australia’s interests?’ Mr Bandt said.
Asked by The New Daily what implications the US’s withdrawal would have for Australia, he said: “Australia and a couple of other countries are going to have to step up if big polluters drop the ball.”