Thanks, Mr President! Bloomberg Says Trump Pulling Out of Paris Agreement Has Been a 'Rallying Cry' for Green Lobby

More than six months after President Donald Trump announced he would pull the U.S. out of the global climate deal known as the Paris Agreement, about 50 world leaders, as well as major U.S. business executives and U.N. officials gathered in the French capital for a daylong climate summit, insisting that Trump’s decision had no impact—and indeed, might well have mobilized the rest of the world to unite on a key issue.

“The fact that President Trump has a different view has been a rallying cry for the pro-environmentalists groups. And that has been very helpful,” former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference in Paris, when TIME asked whether the U.S. withdrawal from the climate agreement would damage efforts to reduce global carbon emissions. “So I just want to thank him for all of his assistance,” said Bloomberg, who chairs an international organization aimed at getting companies to disclose their risks to climate change. “There is not a thing that Washington can do to stop it.”

The array of Presidents and Prime Ministers joined environmentalists and business executives including Elon Musk and Bill Gates at the One Planet Summit, on the second anniversary of the Paris Agreement. French President Emmanuel Macron organized the summit immediately after Trump announced on June 1 that he was withdrawing from the climate deal, which every other country in the world — including Syria and North Korea — has now committed to ratifying. Trump said in a Rose Garden ceremony that day that the agreement was “about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the U.S.,” and that he would “begin negotiations to reenter the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States.”

Six months on, these negotiations are yet to happen.

Macron, who took power last May, told TIME in an interview last month it would be impossible for Trump to “renegotiate with 180 or 190 countries,” and that he had organized the summit in order “to show that we can deliver even without the U.S. federal government.”

Even so, Trump’s hostility to the Paris Agreement causes complications for the global effort. “Mike Bloomberg, the Governor of California [Jerry Brown] have said they will stand in place of the American government,” Macron told an auditorium packed with leaders and officials on Tuesday afternoon. “Nonethless the agreement has been weakened,” he said. “We are not moving quickly enough.”

Key U.S. figures in Paris on Tuesday agreed. “It will be difficult, it will be harder, because of what happens with the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Clean Power Plan,” former Secretary of State John Kerry told TIME on the sidelines of Tuesday’s summit, referring to the Obama administration’s regulation committing the U.S. power sector to transitioning away from coal.

Learn more at Time