Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord has drawn criticism from all directions. As well as facing a backlash from his own supporters, his predecessor who signed the agreement; mayors of major U.S. cities, and many big American companies, Trump will also face universal condemnation Friday from the international community who have spoken with one voice, calling Thursday’s decision a “a sad day for the world.”
One of the most vocal critics of Trump’s decision has been French President Macron, who posted a video message addressing the U.S. president online, speaking in English to hammer home his point. He said that while he respected the decision, he believed it to be a mistake, and ended the message by riffing on Trump’s campaign slogan: “Make our planet great again.”
Immediately after his announcement, Trump also received phone calls from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May – both expressing varying degrees of disappointment and anger at the decision to withdraw.
Merkel, who has had strained relations with the U.S. president even before this decision, reiterated her anger Friday. The German chancellor called it “extremely regrettable and that’s putting it very mildly,” but added that it “can’t and won’t stop all those of us who feel obliged to protect the planet.”
“Selfishness and irresponsibility will be made clear to the world, crippling the country’s world leadership.”
The leaders of France, Germany and Italy issued a strongly worded rebuke to Trump hours after he announced his decision in the Rose Garden at the White House. The statement said: “We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated.”
The U.K leader Theresa May, who has been criticized for kowtowing to Trump in the past, reportedly refused to sign the joint statement, a move which her election opponent Jeremy Corbyn said showed “silence and subservience” to Trump.
Instead, May released a somewhat insipid statement, saying she was “disappointed” with the decision, while stressing that the U.K. remained committed to the Paris Agreement.
Corbyn was more blunt, calling Trump “reckless and regressive,” adding that “instead of handholding, I’ll work for a sustainable future for our planet” — referring to the infamous photo of Trump holding May’s hand when she visited the White House earlier this year.
Many other countries have also lined up to criticize Trump’s reasons for withdrawing from the 2015 agreement. Even as they expressed their disappointment, world leaders were quick to reiterate their commitment to the Paris Accords.
“Today is a sad day for the global community, as a key partner turns its back on the fight against climate change,” the EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete said in a statement. UN chief Antonio Guterres described the move as “a major disappointment for global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote international security.”
Focus has pivoted to China in the aftermath of Trump’s decision — Beijing is poised to distinguish itself as a world leader in climate change, along with the European Union. Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying was quick to reassure, saying that China will “stay committed to upholding and promoting the global governance on climate change, and take an active part in the multilateral process on climate change.”
Chinese state media was far less generous than their government, calling the U.S. president’s decision “reckless and foolish.” And the state-owned Global Times said Trump’s “selfishness and irresponsibility will be made clear to the world, crippling the country’s world leadership.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “disheartened” by Trump’s decision, while not so quietly distinguishing the american people from the federal government. Nevertheless, Trudeau said he would keep lines of communication open in order to “discuss this matter of critical importance for all humankind.”
Japan’s Finance Minister Taro Aso also weighed in, saying: “I’m not just disappointed, but also feel anger.”
Among those most immediately threatened by increasing global temperatures and rising sea levels are small island nations. In response to Trump’s move, the President of the Marshall Islands, Hilda Heine, said it was “highly concerning for those of us that live on the frontline of climate change.” The prime minister of Fiji, Voreqe Bainimarama, said he tried to persuade Trump to stick with the agreement, as nations tackle “the greatest challenge our planet has ever faced.”
Ireland’s former president and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson called the move “truly shocking” given the historical responsibility for global greenhouse gas emissions that the U.S. bears. “It is unconscionable that one of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters would simply walk away from its responsibility to people both at home and abroad, in the interest of short-term fossil fuel profits,” Robinson said.
The head of mega bank Goldman Sachs was so moved by the decision he used his first Tweet to condemn the move. Lloyd Blankfein, who has held a Twitter account since 2011 but never used it, wrote:
Despite the barrage of criticism from all corners of the globe, Trump’s first act on Friday morning when he woke up was to retweet praise for his decision. Those applauding him were largely his own team, and included his vice president, his chief-of-staff, the Republican majority leader in the House of Representatives, and Fox News.