Al Gore: Trump’s decision to withdraw from Paris Agreement ‘threatens the ability of humanity to solve the climate crisis in time’

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor

Al Gore says President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change was reckless and indefensible, but that Americans are going to take the lead in the fight against global warming without him.

“The president made the wrong decision in my view and in the view of most Americans,” Gore said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday. “You know, a majority in every one of our 50 states wanted the U.S. to stay in the agreement. A majority of President Trump’s supporters and voters wanted us to stay in. Seventy percent of the American people. So, it was a reckless decision.”

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“I think it was indefensible,” the former vice president said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” also on Sunday. “It undermines America’s standing in the world. It threatens the ability of humanity to solve the climate crisis in time.”

Trump, who has repeatedly dismissed climate change as a hoax, announced on Thursday that he will start the process of removing the United States from the international climate accord, which was adopted by 195 member states and the European Union at the 2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris.

“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” Trump said in a speech at the White House Rose Garden announcing his decision to pull out of the pact.

“It’s a terribly mistaken decision,” Gore said. “But in the aftermath of that decision, we need to move forward regardless of what he decides. And the good news is that the American people are going to provide leadership even if President Trump will not provide leadership.”

If the U.S. actually leaves, it will join Nicaragua and Syria as the only countries not participating in the climate pact.

“The isolation of America from the rest of the world is not in the interests of our country,” Gore said. “The rest of the world is moving on climate. India just announced that within 13 years, 100 percent of all their cars are going to be electric vehicles. China has reduced emissions four years in a row. We’re seeing a massive shift to solar and wind. And we in the United States ought to be leading this revolution.”

At the Rose Garden, Trump said he will start negotiating with other countries to attempt to broker a deal that he considers fair.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” former Secretary of State John Kerry scoffed at Trump’s plan.

“When Donald Trump says to the world, you know, ‘We’re gonna negotiate a better deal’ — I mean, you know, he’s going to go out and find a better deal?” Kerry said. “That’s like O.J. Simpson saying he’s going to go out and find the real killer. Everybody knows he’s not going to do that.”

Earlier, on “This Week,” Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt was asked whether Trump believes climate change is caused by human behavior. Pruitt refused to answer directly.

“I think the whole question is an effort to get it off the point and the issue of whether Paris is good for this country or not,” Pruitt said. “And the president has indicated the climate changes.”

On CNN, Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, also refused to say whether Trump believes climate change is manmade.

“President Trump believes the climate is changing,” Haley said. “And he believes pollutants are part of that equation. So that is the fact. That is where we are. That’s where it stands. He knows that it’s changing. He knows that the U.S. has to be responsible with it, and that’s what we’re going to do. Just because we got out of a club doesn’t mean that we don’t care about the environment.”

Gore said it shows the administration is “tongue-tied and confused about the climate crisis.”

“You know, in Tennessee, we have a saying: If you see a turtle on top of a fence post, you can be pretty sure it didn’t get there by itself,” he said. “And similarly, if you see levels of climate denial in the U.S. that aren’t true anywhere else in the world, you can be pretty sure that didn’t happen by itself.”

Gore, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his climate change activism, met with Trump at Trump Tower during the transition to urge the president-elect to remain in the Paris Agreement.

“I’ve kept the details of my conversations with him confidential,” Gore said on CNN, but added, “None of it would surprise you.”

Al Gore after a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower, Dec. 5, 2016. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Yet speaking at the Cannes Film Festival last month, Gore said, “I think there’s an excellent chance that President Trump will surprise many by deciding to stay in.”

Why did he think that?

“Well, it made sense for the country,” Gore replied. “All he had to do, under the terms of the Paris Agreement, was change the commitments. They’re voluntary, and each country can determine its own commitments. So, I thought it made sense. And I thought that he would come to his senses on it. But he didn’t.”

Gore pointed to the vows from city and state lawmakers and major U.S. businesses to continue to reduce their environmental footprints as a reason to be optimistic that the country will honor its commitment to the Paris Agreement anyway.

“Here’s the good news,” Gore said. “We’re seeing civic leadership, businesses, Apple, Google, General Electric. You can go right down the list. We are going to see continued reductions in emissions in the U.S. We’re going to meet the commitments under the climate pact in Paris, regardless of what President Trump does.”

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