Belfast Telegraph

Trump defends environmental record after remarks from Irish president

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

Protesters stand at the peace camp on the road to Shannon Airport (Brian Lawless/PA)
Protesters stand at the peace camp on the road to Shannon Airport (Brian Lawless/PA)

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.

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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.

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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.

US President Donald Trump (R) and First Lady Melania Trump (L) disembark Air Force One upon arrival at Shannon Airport in Shannon, County Clare, Ireland on June 5, 2019. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump (R) and First Lady Melania Trump (L) disembark Air Force One upon arrival at Shannon Airport in Shannon, County Clare, Ireland on June 5, 2019. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
Protesters at the peace camp on the road to Shannon Airport (Brian Lawless/PA)
US President Donald Trump (R) and First Lady Melania Trump (L) disembark Air Force One upon arrival at Shannon Airport in Shannon, County Clare, Ireland on June 5, 2019 after attending an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings wrapping up a UK State Visit. - US President Donald Trump and Queen Elizabeth II joined 300 veterans in paying tribute to their fallen comrades at a poignant ceremony on Wednesday marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Wrapping up a three-day State Visit to the UK Trump flew to Ireland where he is expected to hold a meeting with prime minister Leo Varadkar and visit his golf course near the village of Doonbeg. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump (L) meets with Irish Prime Minsiter Leo Varadkar (R) at Shannon Airport in Shannon, County Clare, Ireland on June 5, 2019 after attending an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings wrapping up a UK State Visit. - US President Donald Trump and Queen Elizabeth II joined 300 veterans in paying tribute to their fallen comrades at a poignant ceremony on Wednesday marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Wrapping up a three-day State Visit to the UK Trump flew to Ireland where he is expected to hold a meeting with prime minister Leo Varadkar and visit his golf course near the village of Doonbeg. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump is seen during his meeting with Irish Prime Minsiter Leo Varadkar (unseen) at Shannon Airport in Shannon, County Clare, Ireland on June 5, 2019 after attending an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings wrapping up a UK State Visit. - US President Donald Trump and Queen Elizabeth II joined 300 veterans in paying tribute to their fallen comrades at a poignant ceremony on Wednesday marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Wrapping up a three-day State Visit to the UK Trump flew to Ireland where he is expected to hold a meeting with prime minister Leo Varadkar and visit his golf course near the village of Doonbeg. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
SHANNON, IRELAND - JUNE 05: US President Donald Trump during a bilateral meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Shannon airport on June 5, 2019 in Shannon, Ireland. President Trump will use his Trump International golf resort in nearby Doonbeg as a base for his three day stay in Ireland. The resort employs over 300 local people in the area and the village will roll out a warm welcome for the 45th President of the United States. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Malania Trump arrive in Marine One at Doonbeg, County Clare, on the first day of their visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Malania Trump arrive in Marine One at Doonbeg, County Clare, on the first day of their visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
SHANNON, IRELAND - JUNE 05: The Presidential cavalcade carrying US President Donald Trump departs Airforce One at Shannon airport on June 5, 2019 in Shannon, Ireland. President Trump will use his Trump International golf resort in nearby Doonbeg as a base for his three day stay in Ireland. The resort employs over 300 local people in the area and the village will roll out a warm welcome for the 45th President of the United States. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Donald Trump Jr. (left), and Eric Trump (right), the sons of US President Donald Trump, pour drinks and meet locals in the village of Doonbeg in Co Clare. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Donald Trump Jr., the son of US President Donald Trump, pours drinks and meets locals in the village of Doonbeg in Co Clare, on the first day of US President Donald Trump's visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Donald Trump Jr. (left), the son of US President Donald Trump, pours drinks and meets locals in the village of Doonbeg in Co Clare, on the first day of US President Donald Trump's visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Eric Trump, the son of US President Donald Trump, pours drinks and meets locals in the village of Doonbeg in Co Clare, on the first day of US President Donald Trump's visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Eric Trump, the son of US President Donald Trump, pours drinks and meets locals in the village of Doonbeg in Co Clare, on the first day of US President Donald Trump's visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Donald Trump Jr. (left) and Eric Trump, the sons of US President Donald Trump, pour drinks and meet locals in the village of Doonbeg in Co Clare, on the first day of US President Donald Trump's visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Eric Trump, the son of US President Donald Trump, pours drinks and meets locals in the village of Doonbeg in County Clare, on the first day of US President Donald Trump's visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Eric Trump, the son of US President Donald Trump, pours drinks and meets locals in the village of Doonbeg in Co Clare, on the first day of US President Donald Trump's visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Eric Trump, the son of US President Donald Trump, meets locals in the village of Doonbeg in County Clare, on the first day of US President Donald Trump's visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Malania Trump arrive in Doonbeg, County Clare, on the first day of their visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
SHANNON, IRELAND - JUNE 05: US President Donald Trump arrives at Shannon Airport on June 5, 2019 in Shannon, Ireland. After visiting the UK for the D-Day 75th anniversary, US President Donald Trump will visit Ireland to meet with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar before travelling to the Trump International Golf Links resort in Doonbeg. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
IRELAND - JUNE 05: US First Lady, Melania Trump attends a welcome function on June 5, 2019 in Ireland. President Trump will use his Trump International golf resort in nearby Doonbeg as a base for his three day stay in Ireland. The resort employs over 300 local people in the area and the village will roll out a warm welcome for the 45th President of the United States. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
IRELAND - JUNE 05: US First Lady, Melania Trump attends a welcome function on June 5, 2019 in Ireland. President Trump will use his Trump International golf resort in nearby Doonbeg as a base for his three day stay in Ireland. The resort employs over 300 local people in the area and the village will roll out a warm welcome for the 45th President of the United States. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
IRELAND - JUNE 05: US First Lady, Melania Trump attends a welcome function on June 5, 2019 in Ireland. President Trump will use his Trump International golf resort in nearby Doonbeg as a base for his three day stay in Ireland. The resort employs over 300 local people in the area and the village will roll out a warm welcome for the 45th President of the United States. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
A supporter of US President Donald Trump near to Shannon Airport following his arrival for his visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Supporters of US President Donald Trump gather near to Shannon Airport following his arrival for his visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Supporters of US President Donald Trump gather near to Shannon Airport following his arrival for his visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Protestors stand at the peace camp on the road to Shannon Airport following the arrival of US President Donald Trump for his visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Climate change protestor Saoirse Exton, 13, from County Clare at the peace camp on the road to Shannon Airport following the arrival of US President Donald Trump for his visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Protestors stand at the peace camp on the road to Shannon Airport following the arrival of US President Donald Trump for his visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Protestors at the peace camp on the road to Shannon Airport following the arrival of US President Donald Trump for his visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Supporters of US President Donald Trump gather near to Shannon Airport following his arrival for his visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Supporters of US President Donald Trump gather near to Shannon Airport following his arrival for his visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Supporters of US President Donald Trump gather near to Shannon Airport following his arrival for his visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
SHANNON, IRELAND - JUNE 05: US President Donald Trump signs the visitors book as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (L) and First Lady Melania Trump (R) watch on at Shannon Airport on June 5, 2019 in Shannon, Ireland. After visiting the UK for the D-Day 75th anniversary, US President Donald Trump will visit Ireland to meet with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar before travelling to the Trump International Golf Links resort in Doonbeg.(Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
SHANNON, IRELAND - JUNE 05: US President Donald Trump signs the visitors book following his arrival at Shannon Airport on June 5, 2019 in Shannon, Ireland. After visiting the UK for the D-Day 75th anniversary, US President Donald Trump will visit Ireland to meet with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar before travelling to the Trump International Golf Links resort in Doonbeg. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left) greets US President Donald Trump at Shannon Airport for his visit to Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
SHANNON, IRELAND - JUNE 05: US President Donald Trump during a bilateral meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Shannon airport on June 5, 2019 in Shannon, Ireland. President Trump will use his Trump International golf resort in nearby Doonbeg as a base for his three day stay in Ireland. The resort employs over 300 local people in the area and the village will roll out a warm welcome for the 45th President of the United States. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
US President Donald Tump waves as he arrives at Shannon Airport, on Air Force Two for a visit to the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Supporters of US President Donald Trump gather near Shannon Airport (Brian Lawless/PA)
SHANNON, IRELAND - JUNE 05: US Marine Corps aircraft Marine One awaits the arrival of US President Donald Trump at Shannon Airport on June 5, 2019 in Shannon, Ireland. After visiting the UK for the D-Day 75th anniversary, US President Donald Trump will visit Ireland to meet with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar before travelling to the Trump International Golf Links resort in Doonbeg. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) meets with Irish Prime Minsiter Leo Varadkar (R) at Shannon Airport in Shannon, County Clare, Ireland on June 5, 2019 after attending an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings wrapping up a UK State Visit. - US President Donald Trump and Queen Elizabeth II joined 300 veterans in paying tribute to their fallen comrades at a poignant ceremony on Wednesday marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Wrapping up a three-day State Visit to the UK Trump flew to Ireland where he is expected to hold a meeting with prime minister Leo Varadkar and visit his golf course near the village of Doonbeg. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump (R) and First Lady Melania Trump (L) disembark Air Force One upon arrival at Shannon Airport in Shannon, County Clare, Ireland on June 5, 2019 after attending an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings wrapping up a UK State Visit. - US President Donald Trump and Queen Elizabeth II joined 300 veterans in paying tribute to their fallen comrades at a poignant ceremony on Wednesday marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Wrapping up a three-day State Visit to the UK Trump flew to Ireland where he is expected to hold a meeting with prime minister Leo Varadkar and visit his golf course near the village of Doonbeg. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
US First Lady Melania Trump (R) is greeted by Irish Prime Minsiter Leo Varadkar (2L) upon disembarking Air Force One upon arrival at Shannon Airport in Shannon, County Clare, Ireland on June 5, 2019 after attending an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings wrapping up a UK State Visit. - US President Donald Trump and Queen Elizabeth II joined 300 veterans in paying tribute to their fallen comrades at a poignant ceremony on Wednesday marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Wrapping up a three-day State Visit to the UK Trump flew to Ireland where he is expected to hold a meeting with prime minister Leo Varadkar and visit his golf course near the village of Doonbeg. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
SHANNON, IRELAND - JUNE 05: US Marine Corps aircraft Marine One awaits the arrival of US President Donald Trump at Shannon Airport on June 5, 2019 in Shannon, Ireland. After visiting the UK for the D-Day 75th anniversary, US President Donald Trump will visit Ireland to meet with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar before travelling to the Trump International Golf Links resort in Doonbeg. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (R) is greeted by Irish Prime Minsiter Leo Varadkar (3L) upon disembarking Air Force One upon arrival at Shannon Airport in Shannon, County Clare, Ireland on June 5, 2019 after attending an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings wrapping up a UK State Visit. - US President Donald Trump and Queen Elizabeth II joined 300 veterans in paying tribute to their fallen comrades at a poignant ceremony on Wednesday marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Wrapping up a three-day State Visit to the UK Trump flew to Ireland where he is expected to hold a meeting with prime minister Leo Varadkar and visit his golf course near the village of Doonbeg. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (third right) awaits the arrival of US President Donald Trump at Shannon Airport for his state visit to Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story IRISH Trump. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
US First Lady Melania Trump pictured as she arrives at Shannon airport for the start of her visit to Ireland. Picture; Gerry Mooney
US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania arrives at Shannon airport for the start of their visit to Ireland. Picture; Gerry Mooney
President Donald Trump and First Lady melania touch down in Shannon Airport. Pictures by Gerry Mooney
President Donald Trump and First Lady melania touch down in Shannon Airport. Pictures by Gerry Mooney
President Donald Trump and First Lady melania touch down in Shannon Airport. Pictures by Gerry Mooney
US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania arrive at Shannon airport for the start of their visit to Ireland. Picture; Gerry Mooney

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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