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U.S. abandons Paris Climate Agreement

WASHINGTON (JUNE 1, 2017) – President Trump announced today his intent to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, the 2015 milestone accord under which 196 nations committed to pursue efforts to limit the increase in the global average temperature to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:

“Climate change is real, and it is the greatest challenge facing our planet. Wildlife and their habitat, as well as human communities and economies worldwide, are at risk because of rising seas, severe weather and a rapidly changing environment.

“President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement is short-sighted and narrow-minded. It will set back decades of hard-fought efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and consign millions to a less prosperous and secure future. We owe a debt to our children and grandchildren to protect our world and secure a clean and prosperous future, and the Paris Agreement was an enormous step towards this goal.

“How can America be great when our leaders ignore and deny the siege we are under by a rapidly changing climate? Today, President Trump has not only turned his back on wildlife, he has also abandoned any pretense of moral leadership in the world.”

Many people know that climate change is causing Arctic sea ice to melt, which in turn threatens polar bears who need the ice to hunt for their prey. But the Arctic is hardly alone in feeling the heat. Droughts caused by changes in precipitation patterns limit the growth of desert grasses and flowering plants that animals like the critically endangered Sonoran pronghorn depend on for food. And shorter, warmer winters increase the occurrence of pests like mosquitoes and ticks that spread disease to our children when they play outdoors. Many types of habitat are expected to shift, shrink or even disappear entirely in the face of warmer temperatures, changes in the growing season, and increased drought, interrupted with intense, flood-inducing rainfall.

And the problems aren’t just on land. Some of the carbon dioxide we emit dissolves in the ocean, where it creates an acid strong enough to dissolve the shells of some marine organisms. Ocean acidification can kill coral reefs, which provide food and shelter for countless marine species. And changes in ocean currents are shifting the location of prime feeding areas farther from islands where certain seabirds have nested for centuries.

Given the wide variety of impacts it has on the environment, climate change is now one of the leading threats to wildlife and habitats. In 2015, Defenders wrote a blog series on the importance of the Paris Climate Agreement for the world, and for wildlife in particular, that can be found here.


Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Newsroom.Defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.