CLIMATE CHANGE
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Paris climate summit 2015

Trump will make ‘big decision’ on 2015 Paris climate change deal in two weeks

Trump vows again ‘it’s going to be America first’

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 April, 2017, 4:19pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 April, 2017, 5:27pm

US President Donald Trump said he would soon make a “big decision” on the Paris climate change agreement amid fears that he could make good his promise to pull out of the landmark 2015 pact.

“I’ll be making a big decision on the Paris accord over the next two weeks, and we’ll see what happens,” Trump said in a speech in Pennsylvania Saturday marking his first 100 days in office.

Trump’s administration has been split on the climate agreement, with Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt and top strategist Steve Bannon pushing for a pullout while White House adviser Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson advocate sticking with the deal.

Those who advocate staying in suggest that the administration can scale back the amount of foreign climate assistance the United States has pledged to provide under the deal, and push countries such as China and India to commit to deeper emissions reductions. Opponents argue that strategy is unrealistic.

Trump described the Paris agreement as “one-sided” and said the US paid “billions” toward the deal while countries such as China, Russia and India paid “nothing”.

“We are not going to let other countries take advantage of us anymore,” Trump said, speaking about international agreements generally.

WATCH: thousands in US protest Trump climate policies

“From now on it’s going to be America first.”

Trump’s comments came as tens of thousands of people across the US marched to demand action on climate change.

The biggest protest was in Washington, where demonstrators made their way down Pennsylvania Avenue on their way to encircle the White House. An estimated 300 such gatherings were held around the country, including in Seattle, Boston and San Francisco.

Trump has said, among other things, that climate change was a “hoax,” tweeting in November that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”

During his campaign, he threatened repeatedly to withdraw from the Paris Agreement or to “renegotiate” the United States’ participation in the global emissions-reduction pact.

Last month he kept a promise to the coal industry by undoing climate-change rules put in place by Obama.

Saturday’s march was part of an effort to build support for candidates with strong environmental records in the run-up to next year’s midterm elections and the 2020 presidential race, organisers said.

Some of the marches drew celebrity attendees, including former vice-president Al Gore and actor Leonardo DiCaprio in the capital and senator and former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination Bernie Sanders at an event in Montpelier, Vermont.

“Honoured to join Indigenous leaders and native peoples as they fight for climate justice,” DiCaprio tweeted .

Marchers were further galvanised by a move taken by the EPA late Friday. The agency announced that it was beginning an overhaul of its website, which included taking down a long-standing site devoted to the science of climate change, which the agency said was “under review”.

The Trump administration has called for budget cuts of nearly one-third at the EPA and has sought to weaken protections for human health. For instance, the White House has proposed cutting funding and regulations regarding lead poisoning prevention and is considering rewriting regulations concerning smog .

It has already rolled back a law that prevented coal mining companies from dumping waste in streams.

In an op-ed piece for the Guardian published on Saturday, Sanders made an economic case for a focus on industries meant to ameliorate the effects of climate change, rather than those which contribute to it.

The senator from Vermont wrote : “No matter what agenda President Trump and his administration of climate deniers push, it is clear that jobs in clean energy like wind and solar are growing much more rapidly than jobs in the coal, oil and gas sectors.”

Tribune News Service, The Guardian, Reuters, Washington Post