President Donald Trump railed against the Paris climate accord yesterday, telling world leaders at a virtual summit that the deal was designed to cripple the US economy, not save the planet.
"To protect American workers, I withdrew the United States from the unfair and one-sided Paris climate accord, a very unfair act for the US," Trump said.
He made the statement in a video conference call from the White House to the Group of 20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia.
President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office in January, has said he will rejoin the global pact that the US helped forge five years ago.
Trump contended the international accord was "not designed to save the environment. It was designed to kill the American economy".
Trump, who has worked to undo most of President Barack Obama's efforts to fight climate change, said that since withdrawing from the deal, the US has reduced carbon emissions more than any nation.
That is true, but not that remarkable. With its giant economy, the US has far more raw emissions of climate-damaging CO2 to cut than any other country except China.
A more telling measure of progress is to look at what percentage of emissions a county has cut. Since 2005, the United States hasn't been even in the top 10 in percentage of emission reductions.
More than 180 nations have ratified the accord.
It aims to keep the increase in average temperatures worldwide "well below" 2 degrees Celsius and ideally no more than 1.5C, compared with pre-industrial levels. The US formally exited the Paris pact on November 4.
On Saturday, the US formally left the Open Skies Treaty, which permits 30-plus nations to conduct unarmed, observation flights over each other's territory. Those were set up decades ago to promote trust and avert conflict. The administration said it wanted out because Russia was violating the pact, and imagery collected during the flights can be obtained quickly at less cost from US or commercial satellites.
Separately US President-elect Joe Biden will announce the first of his Cabinet appointments tomorrow and is planning for a scaled-down inauguration due to the Covid-19 pandemic, aides said yesterday.
He is currently laying the foundations for his new administration despite Donald Trump's refusal to concede.
Ron Klain, Biden's choice as White House chief of staff, again urged the Trump administration formally recognise Biden's victory to unlock resources for the transition process.