US President Donald trump announced on Thursday that the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases will be formally withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change.
"The United State will withdraw from the Paris Accord," he said.
However, he said that the US will begin renegotiating to reenter the accord but on terms that are more favourable to it. He said that as the treaty currently stood, the US was the biggest loser, but that other countries were not carrying their weight. He referred specifically to China and India.
He said that as the treaty stood it would cost the US some 2.7 million jobs by 2025. He said the agreement, as it stood "hamstrung the US".
"This is not what we need," he added. He said that the country would happily re-enter the agreement that would see "the burdens and responsibilities that are equally shared".
Trump’s decision honours a pledge that he made during his election campaign in 2016.
Earlier on Thursday world leaders called on Trump to stick with the Paris Climate agreement, which his predecessor Barack Obama had committed the country to.
Trump's predecessor said the Trump administration was joining "a small handful of nations that reject the future" by withdrawing from the Paris climate change pact.
Obama is defending the deal that his administration painstakingly negotiated. He says the countries that stay in the Paris deal will "reap the benefits in "jobs and industries created." He says the US should be "at the front of the pack."
In response to the US pulling out, Obama said that Trump's decision reflects "the absence of American leadership."
But Obama said he was confident nonetheless that US cities, states and businesses will fill the void by taking the lead on protecting the climate. Obama said that businesses have chosen "a low-carbon future" and are already investing heavily in renewable sources like wind and solar.
The US joins Syria and Nicaragua as being the only countries that are not part of the agreement that seeks to limit the effects of global warming.
The White House had remained tight-lipped about his decision, although some media outlets had prior to the formal announcement had quoted sources saying that he had already taken a decision to leave.
"The president has listened to people from all sides and ultimately he's going to make the best decision for ... the American worker," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.
During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump blasted the accord, and called global warming a hoax aimed at weakening US industry.
He vowed at the time to cancel the Paris deal within 100 days of becoming president of the country as part of efforts to boost the US oil and coal industries.
But as Trump moved on to pull the US from the agreement, world leaders vowed to continue with the accord.
On Thursday Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, speaking to reporters during a visit to Berlin, said fighting global warming was a “global consensus” and an “international responsibility”.
Without mentioning the US specifically, Li said that “China in recent years had stayed true to its commitment” and pointed out that his was one of the first countries to ratify the 2015 Paris Agreement.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has in the past even been dubbed the “climate chancellor” for her efforts to fight global warming, welcomed Li’s remarks at their joint press conference.
At a recent G7 summit in Sicily last week European leaders expressed their frustration at Trump over his climate change policies.