Protests, New Climate Pledges After Trump’s Paris Pullout

BRUSSELS (AP) -
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Greenpeace activists protest Friday with a light-projection onto the American embassy in Berlin. (Mike Schmidt/Greenpeace Germany/Handout via Reuters)

Environmental campaigners protested Friday against President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord, while nations around the world pledged to double down on their efforts to curb global warming in response to the U.S. move.

In Berlin, Greenpeace activists projected Trump’s silhouette onto the side of the U.S. embassy along with the words “#TotalLoser, so sad!”

Hours later, German Chancellor Angela Merkel summoned reporters for an impromptu statement in which she called Trump’s decision “extremely regrettable, and that’s putting it very mildly.”

But Merkel, whose country hosts this year’s international climate summit, said it was now time to look ahead.

“This decision can’t and won’t stop all those of us who feel obliged to protect the planet,” she said. “On the contrary. We in Germany, Europe and the world will combine our forces more resolutely than ever to address and successfully tackle challenges for humanity such as climate change.”

In Brussels, European Council President Donald Tusk, standing alongside Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, said that the EU and China “are convinced that yesterday’s decision by the United States to leave the Paris agreement is a big mistake.”

Referring to “the latest unfortunate decisions of the new administration,” Tusk said that the EU and China had “demonstrated solidarity with future generations and responsibility for the whole planet” by reaffirming their climate-change commitment.

Anticipating a possible U.S. pullout, officials from China and the European Union have prepared a declaration reaffirming their commitment to the Paris Agreement.

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Protesters gather outside the White House Thursday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Trump said the United States would be willing to rejoin the accord if it could obtain more favorable terms, but the leaders of France, Germany and Italy said in a joint statement Thursday that the agreement cannot be renegotiated, “since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economics.”

Germany’s environment minister, Barbara Hendricks, told reporters in Berlin that other countries will fill the leadership vacuum but none will be expected to make up the shortfall in emissions reductions caused by Washington’s exit.

Hendricks said that the absence of $500 million in contributions from the United States to the Green Climate Fund will be felt from 2018, but suggested that the gap could be filled with “other financing mechanisms, for example through the World Bank.”

The Green Climate Fund is designed to help poor countries adapt to climate change and bypass some of the greenhouse-gas-emitting technologies formerly used by rich countries.

Poor countries are predicted to be among the hardest hit by global warming, with some foreseeing tens of millions of “climate refugees” in coming decades.

South Africa called the U.S. pullout “an abdication of global responsibility.” It said that the U.S. has a “moral obligation” to support poorer countries in the global effort against climate change.

In Tokyo, Japan’s environment minister, Koichi Yamamoto, said, “I’m not just disappointed, but also feel anger.”

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox also criticized Trump’s move, saying on Twitter, “He’s declaring war on the planet itself.”