UN leader: US leaving Paris accord will harm its global influence

"Generations from now, Americans will look back at Donald Trump's decision to leave the Paris Agreement as one of the most ignorant and risky actions ever taken by any president", said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune in a statement.

And the final decision may not be entirely clear-cut: Aides were still deliberating on "caveats in the language", one official said.

World leaders repeatedly pressed Trump on the issue during his recent trip to Europe, as did Pope Francis, who gave the president his papal encyclical on climate change when they met in the Vatican.

"I hope they decide in the right way", said Italy's prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni. More downbeat was German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said the leaders' talks were "very hard, if not to say, very unsatisfactory".

Trump, who was critical of the deal during his campaign for the presidency, is expected to make an announcement this week on whether the United States will remain a party to the climate accord that his predecessor, Barack Obama, strongly supported and signed. "This administration is abdicating its leadership and taking a backseat to other countries in the global fight against climate change".

"At the same time, we will continue to resolutely be a protector and promoter of the global climate system process, proactively participating in the multilateral climate change process", Hua said.

The emissions goals that each country sets under the Paris agreement are voluntary, and there is no penalty for failing to meet them.

Scientists are split on how reasonable and likely that scenario is.

A withdrawal by the United States would be disappointing but the European Union stands ready to take global leadership on the issue, European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said in Brussels.

Scott Vaughan, president of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, said the US withdrawal would be a blow to Paris and climate change policy around the world because, until recently, it had been the leader on the file.

Another computer simulation team put the effect of the US pulling out somewhere between 0.1 to 0.2 degrees Celsius (0.18 to 0.36 degrees Fahrenheit).

The world has already warmed by just over half that amount - with about one-fifth of the past heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions coming from the United States, usually from the burning of coal, oil and gas.

So the efforts are really about preventing another 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9 degrees Celsius) from now. South Africa's government calls the US pullout "an abdication of global responsibility". "This means Americans have caused a large fraction of the warming".

During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump blasted the accord, saying it would cost the USA economy trillions of dollars with no tangible benefit.

He said countries such as China and Canada have and are stepping up and can fill the void left by the U.S.

Climate Interactive, a team of scientists and computer modelers who track global emissions and pledges, simulated global emissions if every country but the USA reaches their individualized goals to curb carbon pollution.

The Secretary-General recalled that global temperatures had been rising, year after year, and that 2016 was the hottest on record.

"And as soon as possible, President Trump should act on - and keep - his campaign promise". "That amount could make the difference between meeting the Paris limit of two degrees and missing it".

Climate Action Tracker, a competing computer simulation team, put the effect of the US pulling out somewhere between 0.1 to 0.2 degrees Celsius (0.18 to 0.36 Fahrenheit) by 2100.

A US withdrawal could deepen a rift with its allies.

One of the few scientists who plays down the harm of the US possibly leaving the agreement is John Schellnhuber, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the scientist credited with coming up with the 2 degree goal. Some of his aides have been searching for a middle ground in an effort to thread the needle between his base of supporters who oppose the deal for fear it will hamper US economic growth and those warning that a USA exit would deal a blow to the fight against global warming as well as to worldwide US leadership.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Wednesday in Alaska that he had "yet to read what the actual Paris Agreement is", and would have to read it before weighing in.

  • Leroy Wright