Trump defends environmental record after remarks from Irish president

President Donald Trump has defended his environmental record as he was pressed on criticism levelled by his Irish counterpart.

Irish President Michael D Higgins branded Mr Trump’s stance on climate change as “regressive and pernicious” in a speech delivered only 24 hours before he arrived in Ireland for his first presidential visit.

Mr Trump was asked about Mr Higgins’ remarks as he faced press questions at Shannon Airport on Wednesday.

Ireland President Michael D Higgins (Donall Farmer/PA)
Ireland President Michael D Higgins (Donall Farmer/PA)

“I haven’t heard those comments,” he replied.

“But we have the cleanest air in the world in the United States and it’s gotten better since I became president, we have the cleanest water, it is crystal clear, I always say I want crystal clear water and air, so I haven’t heard his comments, but we are setting records environmentally.”

In a speech in Dublin on Tuesday night, Mr Higgins criticised the US decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate change accord.

“While the EU has a set of binding emissions targets for 2020 and 2030, we must now plan for full decarbonisation of our European economies by 2050, encouraging the rest of the world to follow suit, and urging in the strongest possible terms the USA to re-consider its regressive and pernicious decision to leave the global Paris Agreement,” he said.

A number of environmental protesters held a demonstration outside the airport as Mr Trump and his wife Melania landed on Wednesday.

President Trump state visit to Ireland – Day One
US President Donald Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Liam McBurney/PA)

The President held talks with Irish premier Leo Varadkar on arrival.

Afterwards, Mr Varadkar was asked about the climate change issue.

The Taoiseach said Ireland was determined to meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement even if the US is withdrawing.

He said climate change was something every country in the world should act together on or they would not be able to stop it.

“That is why the countries like the US and China have to be part of this as much as small countries like Ireland,” he said.

Mr Varadkar conceded that Ireland was still playing catch up in terms of meeting its climate obligations.

“I would rather be in a position of strength, I would like us to do more to meet our 2030 targets so that we can be in a stronger position to say to other countries that they should too,” he said.

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