NEW YORK- American Jewish groups joined Israeli environmentalists in slamming President Trump’s announcement on Thursday that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Soon after the decision was made, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner issued a statement on behalf of Reform Jewish movement condemning it “with the utmost gravity and disappointment”.

“This is an abdication of responsibility to address global climate change and is both physically dangerous and morally reprehensible,” he wrote. “The decision disregards vitally important environmental efforts to protect both our planet and the population, with consequences that will reverberate for generations.”

Reneging on the agreement, Rabbi Pesner added, “diminishes US leadership and undermines longstanding alliances, placing an undue burden on other nations to address climate change.”

Last month, the Reform movement joined other partners in faith groups calling on President Trump to remain a signatory to the Paris agreement.

“Our rabbinic commentary implores us with a responsibility to steward the earth: “See to it that you do not spoil and destroy my world; for if you do, there will be no one else to repair it” (Midrash Kohelet Rabbah),” the statement said.

“We implore the Trump Administration to reverse this decision and advance policies that will provide for meaningful climate solutions, to both adapt to the effects of climate change, and to mitigate its effects for the future.”

The American Jewish World Service, an organization advocating for people in the developing world, also expressed its strong opposition to Trump’s move.

“Climate change is already placing a disproportionate burden on vulnerable communities around the world, generating severe storms, flooding, droughts and famine,” President and CEO of AJWS Robert Bank said, adding that the longer the US denies climate change and “fails to take responsibility for its outsized contribution to global warming”, the greater the risk posed to the world.

“President Trump has broken America's promise and put the United States government on the wrong side of history, spurning our partners in combating climate change and abandoning the world's most vulnerable communities," Bank said.

Amidst all the criticism, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley defended the President’s decision on Thursday, stating he “acted in America’s best interest, moving away from a flawed agreement that placed too heavy a burden on American jobs, and opening the door to a new agreement that reaches the right balance.”

“As a Governor, I always worked to balance economic growth and environmental protection. We can, and we must do both,” she said. “America will remain a leader in environmental protection. But we will not jeopardize our economy in order to please other counties that don’t come anywhere near our environmental standards.”

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