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Donald Trump tells ‘confidants’ US will leave Paris climate deal: Report

Donald Trump, who has previously called global warming a hoax, came under pressure from the other leaders to honour the 2015 Paris deal.

world Updated: Jun 01, 2017 14:40 IST
Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
Donald Trump,US carbon emissions,Climate change
Donald Trump stands in front of a US flag Melania Trump delivers a speech at the Naval Air Station Sigonella before returning to Washington DC, in Sicily, Italy.(Reuters Photo)

President Donald Trump has said he will announce his decision on whether or not the United States will abandon the Paris Accord this week, but according to a report citing people close to him, he might have made up his mind already: to leave.

Those people include Scott Pruitt, head of the environmental protection agency, who has told his staff in recent days he was confident Trump will pull out, said Axios news, adding the department had worried the president might wilt under pressure from his European and G7 allies during his just-concluded trip abroad.

He didn’t.

“The United States of America is in the process of reviewing its policies on climate change and on the Paris Agreement and thus is not in a position to join the consensus on these topics,” said a communique issued after the G7 summit in Italy.

Trump followed that up with a tweet that he would make “my final decision on the Paris Accord” in the week starting Monday. If the report about Trump telling confidants he had already made up his mind is true, only the formality of an announcement is awaited.

Trump is known, however, to abruptly change his mind, and might decide to go with two of his closest advisers: Ivanka Trump, his daughter who has a formal role in his White House, and her husband Jared Kushner, Trump’s closest and most trusted adviser. Both are said to be “powerful backers” of the accord.

New Delhi will be watching closely, and not only as one of the 192 signatories to the accord signed with much fanfare in December 2015, and went in effect November 2016, but also perhaps for signals that might have a bearing on relations going forward.

Castigating unfair global agreements, Trump had at a rally on completing 100 days in office earlier in May, called the Paris accord “one-sided” and in which “the United States pays billions while China, Russia and India have contributed, and will contribute, nothing”.

That was a standard US critique of a line taken by India, and other developing countries, that richer nations must shoulder a larger share of the blame for global warming and do more for its mitigation — “Climate Justice”, as New Delhi calls it.

Trump took a different tack while explaining his reservations to his G7 allies last week. Gary Cohn, his chief economic adviser told reporters Trump “reiterated that China and India are countries that we have fallen behind in some ways and some nature in the world of manufacturing and job creation and he didn’t want to be in second place in job creation”.

Under the Paris Accord, every signatory country — Syria and Nicaragua are the only ones that have not signed up — committed itself to a self-determined mitigation goal, which, critics in the US, such as Trump have argued, would entail imposing restrictions on some manufacturing sectors leading to job cuts.

Whatever his reasons, Trump has committed himself to an announcement this week, and according to Axios, he is likely to pull the US out of it. The White House refused to confirm or deny it to the publication and told it wait for his decision.

The White House has apparently told Pruitt, who shares Trump and most of the Republican party establishment’s scepticism about global warming and who had been calling publicly for the US to leave, to maintain a low profile till the announcement. The plan is not to let Pruitt take credit for it.

First Published: May 28, 2017 08:34 IST