President Donald Trump has announced plans to withdraw from the Paris climate change accord but will begin negotiations to re-enter under terms that are fair to America and Americans.
He has called the Paris pact a hoax and a a bad deal for American workers, which was poorly negotiated by the Obama administration.
President Obama hailed the agreement as "a turning point for our planet and a key test for American leadership in the world.
The 197-member climate agreement requires every country to establish ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gasses. But those targets are largely voluntary, and Trump has already made clear that he views environmental regulations as an obstacle to his goal of creating jobs and ensuring energy independence.
The U.S. is now only the third nation out of 197 that is eligible to participate in the agreement but refuses to do so. The other countries are Syria and Nicaragua.
The decision comes less than a week after Trump met with world leaders in Sicily, where closed-door discussions included pleas for the United States to stick to the consensus agreed to in Paris in 2015 and consummated last year.
In a separate meeting with Pope Francis last week, the pontiff presented Trump with a gift — a copy of his two-year-old encyclical on climate change known as Laudato Si. Francis, who argues that care of God's creation is part of the church's larger concern for the poor, encouraged "continued participation,” in the climate agreement.
Five Nordic countries wrote a last-minute letter to President Donald Trump urging him to "make the right decision" and keep America signed onto the Paris climate accord.
The leaders of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden say the 2015 Paris Agreement to reduce global warming was a commitment "to our children."
In a letter sent hours before Trump was due to announce on Thursday whether the U.S. would pull out of the accord, the five leaders say the effects of global warming are already visible in all parts of our planet.
They say it's "crucial.. that all parties stick to the Paris Agreement."
The letter is signed "Your Nordic Friends" and urges Trump "to show global leadership - and to make the right decision."
Trump has said he's been lobbied heavily by both sides on the climate agreement. On one side is the economic nationalist wing of his White House, advisers such as Steve Bannon who have called climate change a "manufactured crisis" and who once urged "good global warming skeptics" to leave all the lights in their house on in order to protest the Paris talks.
Under the terms of the agreement, the earliest a nation can formally withdraw is November, 2020 — the same month Trump will run for re-election.
© 2017 Associated Press