Former US President Barack Obama has criticised his successor Donald Trump, following the current incumbent's decision to pull out of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.
Obama has offered limited commentary on Trump's first few months in office thus far, and did not mention the former businessman and TV personality by name. In a carefully-worded speech, he instead made reference to an 'absence of American leadership' and spoke of the current administration's decision to 'reject the future'.
Barack Obama makes a statement on the ratification of the Paris Agreement, Oct 2016. Credit: PA
"The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created," he said.
"I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack. But even in the absence of American leadership; even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I'm confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we've got."
This was followed by the shock resignation of Elon Musk from the presidential council, who joined scientists across the globe in condemning the decision.
"Am departing presidential councils," he said via Twitter. "Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world."
The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, Musk was appointed to Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum in December 2016, additionally becoming a corporate advisor to the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative the following month.
Elon Musk, on his appointment to the presidential council, Dec 2016. Credit: PA
The president announced the decision earlier today from the White House Rose Garden, claiming the agreement would cost the US 6.5 million jobs and $3 trillion in lost GDP.
"In order to fulfil my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord," he said, "but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or a really entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States.
"We don't want other leaders and other countries laughing at us any more - and they won't be.
President Trump announced the US' withdrawal this afternoon. Credit: PA
"I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris. I promised I would exit or re-negotiate any deal which fails to serve America's interests. Many trade deals will soon be under re-negotiation."
The Paris Agreement commits 185 countries, currently including the US, to keeping global temperature rises 'well below' 2C (3.6F), with the aim of reducing them even further to 1.5C. Syria and Nicaragua were the only countries who chose not to sign the deal.
According to analysts, the US withdrawal will make it harder for the rest of the world to attain these goals. The US contributes about 15% of global emissions of carbon.
According to White House sources, the US withdrawal could take up to four years to complete.