Trump Paris Agreement pullout riles Europe, thrills nationalists

The nationalist wing of the administration can add a point to the scoreboard after a messy and public months long battle inside the White House: President Trump, against the wishes of the rest of the world, defiantly quit the Paris Agreement on climate change on Thursday in the Rose Garden.

"I am fighting every day for the great people of this country," Mr. Trump announced. "Therefore, in order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and it's citizens, the U.S. will withdraw from the paris climate accord." 

"But we will start to negotiate and we will see if we can make a deal that's fair. And if we can, that's great. And if we can't, that's fine," he added. 

The President's inclination was always to pull out of the Agreement, according to sources inside the White House. 

But in a White House divided, the influential voices that ultimately pushed Mr. Trump to execute his campaign promise to exit the Agreement included Senior Advisor Steve Bannon, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, and Myron Ebell, a former Trump transition official and climate change skeptic. Twenty-one Republican Senators also called on Mr. Trump make a "clean exit" from the accord in two-page letter sent to the White House last week.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Ivanka Trump, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn and several CEOs urged Mr. Trump to remain in the 195-nation pact. Mrs. Trump was integral to creating a semblance of a process, facilitating meetings on both sides of the aisle in order to better inform the President's decision making, according to a White House spokesperson.

Faulting the Obama administration for a "poorly negotiated deal," ultimately, the White House argues that remaining in the deal serves little to improve the climate, decapitates the U.S. coal industry, imposes unrealistic targets on the U.S. — but not on countries like China and India— and would cost the economy almost $3 trillion over several decades and 6.5 million industrial jobs. 

"The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering an agreement that disadvantages the U.S. leaving American workers, who I love, and tax payers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs and lower wages and vastly diminished economic reduction," Mr. Trump said. 

The rules of the pact, however, prevent Mr. Trump from formally exiting the Paris Agreement for another four years.

Article 28 of the Agreement stipulates that the U.S. cannot withdraw from the agreement until three years from the date of entry – November 4th, 2016 -- and a withdrawal mandates a one-year notice period. A majority of Americans do not want the U.S. to exit the Paris Agreement.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Union, seized on this clause on Wednesday and mocked Mr. Trump's "America First" impulses.

"So this notion, 'I am Trump, I am American, America First and I'm going to get out of it' – that won't happen," Mr. Juncker said. "We tried to explain that to Mr. Trump in Taormina in clear German sentences. It seems out attempt failed, but the law is the law and it must be obeyed."

The administration could very well expedite the process and exit the Agreement in only one year if Mr. Trump decides to exit the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the underlying structure that facilitates international cooperation on climate change.

"Pulling out of the UNFCCC is the quickest path to removing America from a costly, unworkable, and ineffective agreement that President Trump correctly said should be cancelled," the conservative Heritage Foundation argued in a report.

The administration is still working on specifics to exit the plan but, as of Thursday, it will "cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord and the draconian and financial economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country," Mr. Trump said. 

"This includes ending the implementation of the nationally determined contribution and the green climate fund which is costing the U.S. a vast fortune," he added. 

Reverberations from Mr. Trump's decision were felt around the world, further unsettling allies after his appearances at the G7 and G20 summits of rich nations, followed by an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal from National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Senior Advisor Gary Cohn that candidly outlined the administration's transactional worldview.

"The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a 'global community' but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage," Cohn and McMaster wrote.

World leaders did not hold back. On Thursday morning, before Mr. Trump's formal announcement, Germany and China pledged to continue to fight climate change. At a joint news conference with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised China for becoming "a more important and strategic partner."

"We are living in times of global uncertainty and see our responsibility to expand our partnership in all the different areas and to push for a world order based on law," she said.

Andrew Light, a Senior Fellow at the World Resources Institute and a Former Climate Change Official from the State Department, told CBS News that withdrawing from the Paris Agreement will not only have severe diplomatic blowback, but will hand the Chinese more "influence on a silver platter."

"Why would you willingly give put that leadership for what will come across as narrow ideological victory for a very small part of the White House?" Light said.

The most immediate effect, Light argued, is the shadow this decision casts over American businesses.

"It's going to hurt us economically as well because it'll make us harder for American businesses to compete in the clear energy marketplace if the federal government isn't setting up deals to compete in that marketplace," he said. 

An army of business leaders, from inventor and entrepreneur Elon Musk to Apple CEO Tim Cook, protested the decision. Twenty-four corporations including Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Unilever, penned an op-ed that ran in major U.S. newspapers, urging Mr. Trump to remain in the Agreement.

"As businesses concerned with the well-being of our customers, our investors, our communities, and our suppliers, we are strengthening our climate resilience, and we are investing in innovative technologies that can help achieve a clean energy transition," the ad reads. "For this transition to succeed, however, governments must lead as well."

Major energy corporations such as ExxonMobil, Chevron and BP also support the agreement, although coal companies do not.

Leading up to the announcement, it was business as usual for a White House with a President who thrives on controversy and chaos. Mr. Trump himself indulged in the suspense of his announcement on Twitter of Wednesday night, teasing Thursday's announcement.

 "I will be announcing my decision on Paris Accord, Thursday at 3:00pm. The White House Rose Garden. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" he tweeted.

Noticeably missing from the process, as headlines continued to outpace a formal decision, was any regard for normal diplomatic protocols. Diplomats around D.C. scrambled to get a firm answer on what Mr. Trump's plans were before he announced them.

"I don't know if it's complicated for partners or if its just disorganization within the White House itself," one Western diplomat reasoned.

"In a formal discussion we had with some people from the National Security Council, they don't think the president is going to change. He is not used to an administrative process. He doesn't understand the need for bureaucracy, so now the administration is trying to adapt to the president [rather] than adapt the president to the bureaucracy," the diplomat concluded.