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Trump Admin Doubles Down on Plans to Withdraw from Paris Deal as UNGA Makes Climate Top Priority

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At the United Nations, President Trump’s chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, said Monday the U.S. would withdraw from the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord as planned. His comments came as U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said climate should be a top priority at this year’s General Assembly. Our guest, economist Jeffrey Sachs, notes that the “agreement is completely symmetrical for all 193 countries,” and also argues that chemical and oil companies should help pay for recovery efforts after extreme weather related to climate change.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: At the United Nations, President Trump’s chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, said Monday the U.S. will withdraw from the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord as planned. His comments came as the U.N. secretary-general, António Guterres, said climate should be a top priority at this year’s General Assembly, the U.N. secretary-general urging countries to go above and beyond the Paris climate accord commitments.

SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES: Countries have signed up to the Paris Agreement, but we know that current pledges and plans are insufficient to keep global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees. In 2020, parties will review progress. By then, we need to make sure that we have substantially raised the bar of ambition. We are still on a path for a world that may be 3 or more degrees warmer.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that was the U.N. attorney—the U.N. secretary-general. Talk, Jeffrey Sachs, about this, also about your encounter on CNN when you were calling out the Trump backer.

JEFFREY SACHS: Basically, what we’re viewing here is the corruption of American politics, because the oil lobby owns the Republican Party. It is the Republican Party that said to Trump, who himself has no values, after all, “Pull out of Paris.” A letter by 22 Republican senators—which one can find online and then go to to find out how much they’re paid by the oil industry—provoked this. Gary Cohn, that’s another disgrace. If you don’t like it, get out of there. But that’s Goldman talking. That’s Wall Street, the oil industry. It’s a mess. We’ve got ExxonMobil owning the State Department right now. We have Ken [sic] Pruitt at EPA, who is—

AMY GOODMAN: Scott Pruitt.


JEFFREY SACHS: —an oil and gas industry hack from beginning to end, dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency as we’re experiencing one disaster after another. And here comes the United States to tell the other 192 countries—because this is a unanimous global agreement, all 193 countries—we’re stepping back, with four catastrophic hurricanes in a row. Basically, this is not imbecility, though it looks like imbecility. This is just corruption of American politics. Chevron, ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, they paid for this. If you’re an American, they are endangering your life.

AMY GOODMAN: You said these chemical companies, these oil companies should be paying for the recovery after these hurricanes.

JEFFREY SACHS: They are going to pay eventually, because there are going to be lawsuits and litigation and International Court of Justice challenges, because these oil companies are, with foreseeability—the legal doctrine—with intent, committing what is basically a tort, a wrong, committed of endangering the lives of the people in Puerto Rico, the lives of the people all through the Caribbean, the lives of Americans, in Houston and Florida. And it’s going to be—of course, we experienced it here in New York with Superstorm Sandy. These are exactly the kinds of shocks that are becoming more and more intense and more and more frequent because of global warming.

And then you have people like Gary Cohn, disgraceful, coming and saying, “We pull out of the Paris climate agreement.” And Trump, in his fantasy world, which is a fantasy world, says this agreement is unfair to the United States. If you look at the agreement, the agreement is completely symmetrical for all 193 countries. There’s not one phrase about the United States in the agreement. It is a completely symmetrical agreement globally. And Trump, because he’s a man of grievance, of belligerence, of hate, says that’s against the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much, Jeffrey Sachs, for coming in, leading economist, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. His most recent book, with a foreword by Bernie Sanders, is titled Building the New American Economy: Smart, Fair, and Sustainable. This is Democracy Now! Back in a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: Oh, a shout-out to Girl Scout Troop 4723 from Queens and IndyKids, who have come to watch Democracy Now! today in our studios here in New York. And that music, “Balderas Subway Station” by Rockdrigo González, who was killed in the 1985 Mexico City earthquake.

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