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Reports say US to exit Paris pact, Trump still to announce

Trump, a global warming sceptic, has been critical of the accord, saying it would be harmful for America’s manufacturing and that other nations were not doing enough.

world Updated: May 31, 2017 21:58 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Paris climate accord,environment protection agency administrator Scott Pruitt,UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
As a candidate for White House, Trump had promised to withdraw from the Paris Accord.(AP File)

US President Donald Trump is expected to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord as he had promised as a candidate for the White House, according to multiple news reports citing unidentified White House officials.

But Trump gave no indications of the same, tweeting: “I will be announcing my decision on the Paris Accord over the next few days. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

Axios news outlet was on Wednesday the first to report that Trump was pulling the US out of the accord, citing unidentified officials. According to the outlet, environment protection agency administrator Scott Pruitt and his team were working on the withdrawal details.

Pruitt and his team have two options: pull out of the Paris Accord — a process that could take three years to complete — or exit the UN treaty behind the agreement — the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change — which might be a lot quicker.

At the G-7 summit last week, Trump had said he would announce his “final decision” in the coming days. But there was no official confirmation or denial of the reports, except his tweet.

Trump, a global warming sceptic, has been critical of the accord saying it would be harmful for America’s manufacturing and that other nations such as India, China and Russia were not doing enough for mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.

The US’s withdrawal will not unravel the accord signed by 195 entities, but could weaken the global effort significantly with the world’s largest economy out of it.

The decision comes at time of growing domestic crisis for Trump, with federal and Congressional investigations into Russian meddling in US elections and allegations of collusion by Trump campaign aides reaching his inner circle.

Investigators are focussing on a meeting Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner had last December with a Russian banker considered close to Vladimir Putin. And they also want to speak with Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

Trump called the probe a “witch-hunt” in tweets on Wednesday morning — a phrase he has used before.

Trump had been under pressure from G-7 allies abroad and supporters of the accord at home, including those in his inner circle and big businesses such as the oil giant Exxon, who had urged him to stay, and renegotiate it if necessary.

Supporters of the accord in his inner circle — daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, son-in-law and adviser Kushner, and secretary of state Rex Tillersen — had not given up and were expected to press him till the end.

But detractors, including chief strategist Steve Bannon and Pruitt, pushed him hard to leave. A group of 21 Republican senators wrote to him last week urging him to make a “clean break” from the agreement.

Trump might not have needed much convincing there. As a candidate for White House, he had promised to withdraw from the accord. But he had appeared to indicate some flexibility after the election, telling an interviewer he had an open mind on the issue.

But he never converted.

At a rally in April, he criticized global agreements that need the US to do and pay more and called the accord “one-sided” in which “the United States pays billions while China, Russia and India have contributed, and will contribute, nothing”.

And during his recent foreign tour, officials said he opposed the accord, arguing that by implementing the self-determined mitigation goal, the US would severely impair its manufacturing, leaving it less competitive than India and China.

First Published: May 31, 2017 21:27 IST