Full Transcript: John Kerry on Trump's climate agreement decision

Then-Secretary of State John Kerry -- with his granddaughter on his lap -- signed the Paris climate agreement last year. After President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that the U.S. will withdraw from the agreement, Kerry took to Facebook to criticize the decision.

He accused Mr. Trump of "unilaterally walking backwards from science and backwards from leadership on behalf of polluters and fringe ideologues," and said it "may be the most self-defeating action in American history."

Kerry spoke with CBS News' Anthony Mason on June 1, 2017, on "CBS Evening News." What follows is a full transcript of the interview.


ANTHONY MASON: Mr. Secretary, you call this an unprecedented forfeiture of American leadership. What do you mean?

SEC. JOHN KERRY: Well when 195 countries come together working for decades and the United States of America takes the leadership in order to join with China, the two largest emitters in the world, of carbon emissions, to say we must begin to reduce, and then to have a president stand up and simply unilaterally walk away from that, without scientific basis, not based on facts in terms of our economy. The truth is the president... no country is required by this agreement to do anything except what that country decided to do for itself. So Donald Trump is not telling the truth to the American people when he says 'we have this huge burden that's been imposed on us by other nations,' no. We agreed to what we would do. We designed it. It's voluntary and the president of the Unites States could simply have changed that without walking away from the whole agreement

MASON: The president portrayed it in economic terms and said it gave other nations a financial advantage.

KERRY: No. That's just not true. The fastest growing job in America, the biggest single job is wind turbine technician. 2.6 million clean energy jobs have been created in America and guess what, half of them, 50 percent, are in states that Donald Trump won. He's going to hurt those people. He's going to hurt those states. America is going to lose economic leadership in this

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Sec. John Kerry

CBS News

MASON: So do you think we have something to lose if we back out?

KERRY: We have indeed. Do you think American businesses will flourish when they knock on the door of a country and say well we want to give you solar tech... they're going to say w'ell you guys just walked away from the deal. You guys aren't committed to this.' That's why major companies, among them, Exxon Mobile, major Fortune 500 companies, all supported staying in the Paris agreement. Because they know what this means in terms of their job base, their growth and the economy.

MASON: The president said he was elected by the people of Pittsburgh, not the people of Paris.

Kerry: Well indeed absolutely true but there's nothing in… what America has agreed to do in this that Paris dictated. There's nothing in what America agreed to do in this agreement that came from France or came from Britain or any other country. We are doing what America decided we could do and should do that was appropriate.

KERRY: He said he would honor the timetable for withdrawal which would in effect take past the next election.

KERRY: Well he said as of today he will stop the implementation. So it depends on what Scott Pruitt and the EPA and others continue to do. Tell me, where is the constituency in America to put coal sludge back into rivers and lakes? But that's what he's done. He's signed the executive order to do that. Where is the constituency to reduce the ability of cars to maintain lower automobile emissions? Why would you want to get rid of that? What Donald Trump is doing is serving the polluters and serving a narrow group of ideological interests. That's not leadership. That's abdication of responsibility, and this step does not make America first. It makes America last.

MASON: Mr. Secretary, thank you

KERRY: Thank you.