The Eiffel tower is illuminated in green with the words
© Jacky Naegelen / Reuters
The Eiffel tower is illuminated in green with the words "Paris Agreement is Done".
President Donald Trump is withdrawing the US from the Paris agreement on climate change, a UN treaty signed by almost 200 nations in 2016 and considered a major achievement by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

The decision was announced Thursday afternoon in the White House Rose Garden.

"In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the US will withdraw from the Paris climate accord," Trump said.

His administration will begin negotiations to reenter either the Paris accord or another climate treaty, "on terms that are fair" to the US, Trump added.

"As of today, the US will cease all implementation" of the Paris accord and the "draconian" burdens it mandated, he said.

Implementing the pact would have the US cost trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lost industrial job, with massive reductions to the production of paper, cement, iron and steel, coal, and natural gas, Trump said, explaining his decision.

"This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining financial advantages over the US," the president said.

The pact would see the US put its enormous wealth under lock and key, "leaving millions of families trapped in poverty and joblessness," Trump said, pointing out that just two weeks of emissions from China alone would totally wipe out the gains from all US carbon reductions through 2030.

"The US, under the Trump administration, will continue to be the cleanest and most environmentally friendly country in the world," but not at the cost of American prosperity, he added.

Negotiated in 2015, the Paris agreement seeks to drastically limit carbon dioxide and other emissions from fossil fuel consumption, in order to slow down global warming. The US was committed to reducing emissions by up to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025. China is currently the world's biggest carbon emitter, with the US trailing close behind.

The international climate summit that was supposed to take place in Boston next month has been canceled due to lack of federal support, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Wednesday.

"The administration just hasn't been responding to us to see if they're interested in working on bringing folks here," Walsh said at a news conference. "It doesn't seem like there's any interest at all in moving forward."

Back in 2012, Trump derided global warming as a Chinese hoax to make the US de-industrialize. During the Republican primary campaign, he told the Washington Post he was "not a big believer in man-made climate change."

In a May 2016 campaign speech on energy policy, Trump said he would "cancel" the Paris treaty.

"Any regulation that's outdated, unnecessary, bad for workers or contrary to the national interest will be scrapped and scrapped completely," he said.

The administration is now deciding whether to initiate a full, formal withdrawal from the treaty - a process that could take as much as 3 years - or leave the UN climate change treaty altogether.

Canada, the European Union, and China have said they will honor their commitments to the pact even if the US withdraws, Reuters reported.

"China will stand by its responsibilities on climate change," Premier Li Keqiang told reporters after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Tuesday.

Merkel called the Paris agreement "essential."

Russia likewise remains committed to the treaty, to which Moscow "attaches great significance," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday.

Speculation was rife as to who might have influenced the president's decision, with Reuters describing EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and adviser Steve Bannon as being in favor of pulling out, while Trump's daughter Ivanka, chief economic adviser Gary Cohn and Energy Secretary Rick Perry wanted the US to remain.

Over two dozen leading world corporations - including Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft - sent a letter to Trump on Wednesday, "strongly urging" him to remain in the Paris pact and saying it was beneficial to both the economy and the environment.

'Art of breaking a deal': Trump's withdrawal from Paris climate accord sparks backlash

Both condemnation and support for President Donald Trump's announcement of US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement has taken over Twitter, with some politicians at a local level stepping up to challenge the controversial decision.

On Thursday, Trump decided to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change, causing an outcry from Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, who signed the landmark deal. Kevin Lewis, Obama's spokesman, released a statement, criticizing the decision as a job killer.

"The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created," Obama said in the statement. "I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack."

"But even in the absence of American leadership; even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I'm confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we've got," the 44th president added.

Many Republicans, however, praised Trump's decision, including Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), who thanked the current president for keeping his campaign promise and "protecting [Kentucky] jobs from a bad deal."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), however, called the decision a "devastating failure of historic proportions."

Trump's snarky comment Thursday that he was "elected by voters of Pittsburgh, not Paris" drew a response from Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who cited Hillary Clinton's 80 percent win over Trump among the city's voters. Peduto also promised to "follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement."

Other local leaders said they would continue to uphold the deal as well, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said that he plans to sign an executive order later this week on the matter.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh released a statement saying that the withdrawal "isn't just a setback, it's irresponsible."

Democratic Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo called Trump's decision "reckless" and said it would have "devastating repercussions not only for the United States, but for our planet." In his statement, Cuomo said he would also sign an executive order on the matter.

The Indigenous Environmental Network, a collection of Native American activist groups, urged "continued resistance" against the move by Trump.

"Trump is showing us the art of breaking a deal," IEN executive director Tom BK Goldtooth said Thursday in a press release. "By abandoning the Paris Agreement, this administration will further perpetuate environmental racism and climate injustice against Indigenous peoples experiencing the worst effects of climate change across the globe."

Among the harshest critics was Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who called Trump's decision "an abdication of American leadership and an international disgrace" in a statement.

While at Berlin's Free University, Sanders went on to say that Trump "does not reflect the values of most Americans."

Another progressive icon, former Vice President Al Gore expressed optimism despite condemning Trump's withdrawal, saying that the US is "in the middle of a clean energy revolution" and that "no matter what [Trump] does," Gore anticipates "civic leaders, mayors, governors, CEOs, investors and the majority of the business community" to lead the way in solving the climate crisis.