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Trump’s decision on US continuing with Paris climate deal on Thursday

US President widely expected to announce the exit of America from the historic international treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions in a rally to mark his 100 days in office

world Updated: Jun 01, 2017 21:38 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Donald Trump,Climate change,Paris accord
Protesters dressed as the earth and US president Donald Trump pretend to fight during the Peoples Climate March near the White House in Washington on April 29. (Reuters file photo)

US president Donald Trump has said he will announce his decision on Paris climate Accord on Thursday, ending a guessing game he had triggered weeks ago all over the world with a declaration to his supporters at a rally commemorating 100 days in office. But he did not give any indication which way he will go.

“I will be announcing my decision on Paris Accord, Thursday at 3:00 P.M. The White House Rose Garden. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” the president said in a Tweet Wednesday hours after day-long speculation about his decision.

Trump is widely expected to pull the United States out of the Paris Accord that conservatives have hated dogmatically and the president ran against as a candidate for the White House.

But he is known to change his mind at the last minute.

A US news media outlet, Axios, said earlier on Wednesday that Trump was pulling out the Environment Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt, and his team, it added, were working on the modalities of the withdrawal.

They were looking at two options: pull out of the Paris Accord, a process that could take three years to complete, or exit the UN treaty behind agreement — the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change — which might be a lot quicker.

Leaving the G-7 summit last week, where he had come under pressure to stay, 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.

US withdrawal will not unravel the accord but could weaken the global effort significantly with the world’s largest economy out of it.

The treaty was signed by 195 entities, including India, in Paris in December 2016 and went into effect last November.

The decision comes at time of growing domestic crisis for the president with the 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 President Vladimir Putin. And they also want to speak with president’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

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

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

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.

But detractors, all Republicans and including chief strategist Steve Bannon and EPA head 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.

The president 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 election telling an interviewer he had an open mind on the issue.

But he never converted.

At a rally in April, he criticised global agreements that need the US to do and pay more and called the Paris deal “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: Jun 01, 2017 09:36 IST