World leaders affirmed their commitment to combating climate change on Thursday ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement on whether he would pull out of the Paris climate accord. Trump is expected to announce his decision on Thursday afternoon U.S. time (3 p.m. EDT; 1900 GMT).
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, speaking to reporters during a visit to Berlin, said fighting global warming is a "global consensus" and an "international responsibility." Without mentioning the U.S. specifically, Li said that "China in recent years has 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. Other European leaders were more explicit in expressing their fears that the U.S. government may abandon international measures against climate change.
"Please don't change the [political] climate for the worse," European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Britain would continue to press the U.S. to reduce dangerous emissions even if Trump pulls out. Johnson told Sky News that Britain still wants the U.S. to take the lead in fighting climate change and called on individual U.S. states to keep making progress on that front.
"We will continue to lobby the Americans and the White House to show the leadership they have shown in the past on reducing CO2," he said. Abandoning the pact would isolate the U.S. from a raft of international allies who spent years negotiating the 2015 agreement to fight global warming and pollution by reducing carbon emissions.
While traveling abroad last week, Trump was repeatedly pressed to stay in the deal by European leaders and Pope Francis. Withdrawing would leave the United States as one of just three countries outside the agreement. The other two are Syria and Nicaragua.
Russia joined the chorus speaking out in favor of the climate accord. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin said Russia "thinks highly" of the accords and sees no alternative to it. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov added that its implementation will not be as effective "without the key signatories."
During a trip to Europe this week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed India's commitment to fighting climate change and said it would be a ``crime'' to spoil the environment for future generations.
Scientists say Earth is likely to reach more dangerous levels of warming sooner if the U.S. retreats from its pledge because America contributes so much to rising temperatures. Calculations suggest withdrawal could release up to 3 billion additional tons of carbon dioxide a year — enough to melt ice sheets faster, raise seas higher and trigger more extreme weather.