Former Vice President Al Gore on Sunday called President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the Paris climate agreement a “reckless” choice that “undermines America’s standing in the world,” but he said American business leaders and governors will move forward and reduce carbon emissions without Trump.
“I think it was reckless; I think it was indefensible and undermines America’s standing in the world and threatens the ability of humanity to solve the climate crisis in time,” Gore told host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “The decision was a terribly mistaken decision, but in the aftermath of that decision, we need to move forward regardless of what he decides.”
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Gore, who since losing his run for the presidency in 2000 has become a major advocate for fighting climate change, added: “And the good news is, that the American people are going to provide leadership even if President Trump will not provide leadership.”
Citing the governors, mayors and business leaders who have stood by the climate agreement since Trump announced the nation’s exit on Thursday, Gore said, “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, and so we’re seeing a lot of progress.”
“The Paris agreement was really historic,” he said. “But it laid the foundation for the faster progress that’s needed in order to solve the climate crisis in time. And we could have faster progress with presidential leadership, but we’re going to keep moving forward regardless of President Trump.”
More than 190 countries signed onto the Paris accord, which was negotiated in 2015 to set targets for decreasing carbon emissions to fight man-made climate change. Of all the nations that took part in the process to reach the agreement, only two others, Syria and Nicaragua, rejected it.
Trump and his Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, have described their decision to abandon the agreement as necessary for protecting American jobs. Pruitt reiterated that reasoning in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd on Sunday, describing the decision as “not political.”
“This is a decision that was right for this country from a jobs perspective, an economy perspective, and an environmental perspective,” Pruitt said, adding: “Paris represents a bad deal for this country.”
Gore, though, said the decision made little sense, given that the emission targets for each country are voluntary, and that he had thought it was possible that Trump would not go through with pulling out of the pact.
Gore met with Trump during the presidential transition at the request of Ivanka Trump, who favored staying in the Paris agreement. While Gore would not go into details about their discussion, he said “none of it would surprise you.”
“I did think there was a chance that he would come to his senses and not make the decision that he announced this past week,” Gore said.
Gore has spoken with Ivanka Trump about climate change since their meeting, he told Tapper, though not since Trump’s announcement last week.