As Donald Trump does his best to destroy the world’s hopes of reining in climate change, let’s be clear about one thing: This has nothing to do with serving America’s national interest. The U.S. economy, in particular, would do just fine under the Paris accord. This isn’t about nationalism; mainly, it’s about sheer spite.
While Mr. Trump said the decision to exit the deal was made to protect American jobs — a contention that environmental groups have disputed — some large companies had urged the president to stay in the accord.
Twenty-five companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, bought full-page ads in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post last month to argue their case. Some of those companies, and others with similar views in the technology, energy and engineering sectors, reacted quickly on Thursday.
President Emmanuel Macron of France, speaking in French before switching to English, said he believed Mr. Trump was making a mistake.
“I can assure you,” Mr. Macron added, “France will not give up the fight.” He capped off his English remarks with a twist on Mr. Trump’s campaign slogan: “Make our planet great again.”
Other reactions were more blunt. The prime minister of Belgium, Charles Michel, called the American decision “a brutal act.”
I condemn this brutal act against #ParisAccord @realDonaldTrump Leadership means fighting climate change together. Not forsaking commitment.— Charles Michel (@CharlesMichel) June 1, 2017
Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, said Mr. Trump’s decision had turned the United States into “a rogue state.” Miguel Arias Cañete, the European Union’s commissioner for climate, said Mr. Trump’s decision had “galvanized us” and promised that “this vacuum will be filled by new broad committed leadership.”
Representatives of American cities, states and companies are preparing to submit a plan to the United Nations pledging to meet the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions targets under the Paris climate accord, despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement.
The unnamed group — which, so far, includes 30 mayors, three governors, more than 80 university presidents and more than 100 businesses — is negotiating with the United Nations to have its submission accepted alongside contributions to the Paris climate deal by other nations.
By a ratio of more than five to one, Americans in one recent poll said the United States should participate in the Paris climate change agreement that President Trump pulled out of on Thursday. Even a majority of Republicans agreed.
But in Mr. Trump’s calculation, withdrawing from the accord will be a political winner.
The decision highlighted Mr. Trump’s broader political gamble as he seeks to build a presidency that can succeed in midterm elections next year and, ultimately, in 2020 when he is up for re-election. It is a strategy predicated not on attracting new supporters, but on cultivating the narrower conservative base that delivered him to the White House.
This is a daring and risky strategy for a president whose job approval rating remains stuck around 40 percent in many polls. Most presidents seek to widen their support while in office, reaching out to the center — if not to the other party. Mr. Trump, however, is the first president in the history of polling to govern without the support of a majority of the public from the start of his tenure. In effect, Mr. Trump is doubling down on presiding as a minority president, betting that when the time comes, his fervent supporters will matter more, especially clustered in key Midwest states.
Other political specialists, including some Republicans, consider that a miscalculation. The same poll showing large majorities supporting Paris, conducted this month by Yale University’s climate change program, found that even among Trump voters, more supported staying in the accord than not, 47 percent to 28 percent.
“Of all the things he might do to solidify his base, withdrawing from the Paris agreement is pretty far down the list in importance, and for a president at 40 percent approval, it is hard to argue that solidifying his die-hards is his most critical need right now,” said Geoffrey Garin, a Democratic pollster who has advised Hillary Clinton as well as environmental groups.