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

'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.

READ MORE: Trump announces US withdrawal from Paris climate change deal

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.”

61 ‘Climate Mayors’ vow to uphold Paris Agreement, despite Trump pullout

On Thursday, 61 mayors from across the United States, representing 36 million Americans, released a statement saying they would continue to uphold the goals set by the Paris Agreement.

Together, the “Climate Mayors” said they would work toward meeting the 1.5 celsius target set in the Paris Agreement and continue to invest in renewable energy and electric cars, while cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

“And if the President wants to break the promises made to our allies enshrined in the historic Paris Agreement, we’ll build and strengthen relationships around the world to protect the planet from devastating climate risks,” the Climate Mayors wrote.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio 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.

Supporting the president's controversial pullout was Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, who thanked Trump for his “courage” in keeping his campaign promise of putting “America first.”

“With this action, you have declared that people are the rulers of this country once again,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt claimed that before the Paris Agreement, the US reduced its carbon footprint to the levels they were in the early 1990s through innovation and technology in the private sector, not with government mandates.

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.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the White House on Thursday as part of an"emergency rally" in anticipation of Trump’s announcement. Organizers called the backing out “a dangerous signal to the rest of the world that the United States doesn’t honor its commitments.”