President Donald Trump said Thursday he was withdrawing the US from the Paris climate agreement, striking a major blow to worldwide efforts to combat climate change and distancing the country from many allies overseas.
Staying true to his word, innovative powerhouse Elon Musk announced he would leave the president's council in response to the announcement. Trump himself kept everyone in suspense, saying he was still listening to "a lot of people both ways".
Trump had repeatedly pledged during the campaign to back out or renegotiate the climate deal, but appeared to waver on the promise once taking office as top advisers wrestled over what to do. And the final decision may not be entirely clear-cut: Aides were still deliberating on "caveats in the language", one official said.
The unusual French-Italian-German statement, released barely an hour after Mr Trump announced his decision, underscored the disappointment of the Eurozone's three largest economies and their resolve to plough ahead without Washington's support.
The climate deal, agreed on by nearly every country in the world after lengthy negotiations, aims to tackle climate change by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and sets a global target of keeping the rise in the average temperature no higher than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
While travelling overseas last week, Trump was repeatedly pressed to stay in the deal by European leaders and Pope Francis. "The Secretary-General looks forward to engaging with the American government and all actors in the United States and around the world to build the sustainable future on which our grandchildren depend". Meanwhile, many American companies are investing in clean energy, recognizing that energy efficiency and carbon reduction are a blueprint for prosperity. They include Apple, Google and Walmart. He said the climate accord should be a treaty and should have been considered in the Senate during President Barack Obama's tenure.
"Climate change is already impacting the military itself, how it operates, and the countries in which we have an interest where it can result in instability, which leads to violence, which leads to conflict and where we end up moving our young men and women overseas", said retired U.S. Army Brigadier Gen. Gerald Galloway, who is now a University of Maryland engineering professor.
Jay Inslee, Washington's governor, said in a statement: "I am proud to stand with other governors as we make sure that the inaction in D.C.is met by an equal force of action from the states".
It may be years, however, before the country can formally exit the deal, but Trump said he'll immediately halt implementation.
That fight has played out within Trump's administration. Merkel has long championed the Paris Agreement.
In the process, Trump also revealed that his controversial chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who appeared to have fallen out of favor in recent months, has regained some of his once-immense clout.
With the move, the U.S. joins Nicaragua and Syria as the only other non participants to the accord, inked by 195 nations, including Washington, in Paris in December 2015, to fight climate change.
"Even without the United States as a party, Paris still represents our best chance of avoiding severe and destabilising climate change".
When host Anderson Cooper asked him whether he has a message for the President, the mayor said: "What you did was not only bad for the economy of this country, but also weakened America in this world".
"As incoming COP president, I reaffirm that I will do everything possible to continue to forge a grand coalition that will accelerate the momentum that has continued since the Paris Agreement", he said. The aim of the pact is to prevent global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, a level that scientists say could cause irreversible, catastrophic effects.