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Here's how US carbon pollution stacks up with the rest of the world

  • Reports surfaced Wednesday that President Trump plans to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris accord on climate change.
  • European leaders said they were prepared to push ahead with the 200-nation pact, with or without the support of the White House.
  • The United States is the second-largest producer of carbon dioxide, behind China, according to the latest data available from the World Bank.
Air pollution
Kibae Park | Getty Images

President Donald Trump may yank the United States out of the Paris accord on climate change, and even though that wouldn't end the agreement, it would deal it a major blow.

The news sparked widespread criticism. The agreement, which went into effect last November, is the product of several years of difficult negotiations involving most of the countries on earth, and it marked the first global deal to limit carbon emissions.

"If true, this is a reckless and foolish mistake, and our kids will pay the price," Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.

The Paris accord aims to cut the emissions that scientists blame for global warming. Trump has called global warming a "Chinese hoax."

The United States is the second biggest carbon-dioxide polluter after China, according to the latest data available from the World Bank. The U.S. is the biggest producer of carbon emissions on a per-person basis.

The United States committed, under President Barack Obama, to reduce its own emissions by 26 to 28 percent, compared with 2005 levels, by 2025.

Canada, the European Union and China have said they will honor their commitments to the pact, with the United States or without it. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Spain's Mariano Rajoy in Madrid on Wednesday, and both countries reaffirmed their Paris commitments, without mentioning the United States.

The drive to improve efficiency has prompted many U.S. business leaders to support the Paris accord. In April, the chief executives of 16 big U.S. corporations, including Apple and Wal-Mart, wrote the White House urging Trump to support the Paris treaty.

They argued that U.S. participation would make American companies more competitive, create jobs and reduce the risks of future climate-related damage.

Fossil fuel producers including Exxon Mobil, BP and Shell have also said the United States should abide by the deal.

—Reuters and AP contributed to this report

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