Mixed reaction to US exit of Paris climate agreement

BLACKSBURG, Va. - As President Donald Trump announces plans to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, some agree the decision will benefit the U.S. economy, while others are concerned about the impact on climate change.

The deal, which 195 nations signed onto in 2015, takes on climate change by cutting greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

"We're getting out, but we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that's fair," Trump said.

Trump promised to pull out of the agreement during the presidential campaign. He is critical of the deal, arguing it makes the U.S. less competitive while giving other countries an economic advantage.

One way he said it hurts the U.S. economy is by preventing development of clean coal.

"The mines are starting to open up," Trump said. "We're having a big opening in two weeks. Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, so many places."

The Paris agreement pledges to limit the global rise in temperature to two degrees Celsius. Under President Obama, the U.S. promised to cut greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 28 percent.

"The Paris agreement is the biggest climate agreement that we have ever had," said Carol Franco, senior research associate with the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech.

Franco said she was there when the Paris agreement was enacted. She said she is disappointed to see the U.S. pull out of the deal and argues there is now a significantly bigger burden, including financially, on the countries that remain.

"Not only [are] we all going to have to scale up our commitments and reduce more, but there's going to be extra burden on the countries that could help developing countries meet their targets," Franco said.

By leaving the agreement, the U.S. is not bound to cut greenhouse gas emissions by the same proportion, Franco said. Renegotiating a deal with so many countries would be very challenging, she added, but hopes many American companies in the private sector will continue pursuing their goals of cutting carbon emissions.

"It's the same world," Franco said. "There's no way of building a wall around us here not to feel it. So we will continue to see the impacts of extreme weather events, stronger storms, sea [levels] rising."

It will take more than three years for the U.S. to officially withdraw from the agreement. That is set to become finalized in November 2020, which is also when the president runs for reelection.


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