U.S. withdrawal from Paris climate deal would be a ‘disaster,’ Sen. Franken says

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn, blasted President Donald Trump on Wednesday for reports that suggested he would pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord.

“This is a disaster,” Franken said in an interview with PBS NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan. “For us not to be in this, I think, is a shame. [It’s] an embarrassment.”

Franken’s comments came as news emerged Wednesday that Mr. Trump was close to a final decision on whether to withdraw the U.S. from the accord, which set goals for reducing global carbon emissions. Trump wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that he would make his decision “over the next few days.”

President Barack Obama’s administration backed the deal, which was adopted in late 2015 and signed by the U.S. and 195 other countries last year. Franken was one of 10 Democratic senators who traveled to Paris for the final negotiations and to show support for the agreement.

READ MORE: What will the world look like if the U.S. bails on the Paris climate deal?

The two-term Minnesota senator told NewsHour that America’s participation in the agreement was key to curbing global emissions. Franken also said that taking the lead on climate change would benefit the U.S. economy and stimulate the domestic clean energy sector.

“We need to be investing in clean technology, energy efficiency, energy storage,” Franken said. “I want people in Minnesota creating that technology and exporting it to China. Not vice versa.”

Franken, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been a vocal supporter of policies aimed at slowing global warming. Franken included a chapter on climate change in his recent memoir, “Al Franken, Giant of the Senate.”

In the NewsHour interview, Franken also touched on the ongoing investigations into Russia’s possible ties to Trump’s campaign and the Senate’s work on a Republican health care plan.

Watch the full interview on tonight’s program.