Donald Trump's advisers and cabinet officials have been fiercely debating whether to abandon the Paris climate agreement. It appears the president has finally made up his mind.
According to Axios, Trump plans to formally exit the agreement, which seeks to limit global temperature rise through voluntary emissions targets.
The accord has been ratified by 147 countries. It marked the first time that developed and developing countries rallied around a common set of emissions targets.
"Details on how the withdrawal will be executed are being worked out by a small team including EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt," writes Axios reporter Jonathan Swain.
Despite support from the biggest global corporations and energy majors, national security officials, many top officials in the White House, the president's daughter, and virtually every country in the world, Trump is bowing to pressure from a small group of Republicans.
Opponents of the deal warned that the president's executive order rescinding the Clean Power Plan could come under legal threat if America remained a party to the Paris Agreement.
“A key risk to fulfilling this objective is remaining in the Paris Agreement. Because of existing provisions within the Clean Air Act and others embedded in the Paris Agreement, remaining in it would subject the United States to significant litigation risk that could upend your administration’s ability to fulfill its goal of rescinding the Clean Power Plan," wrote a group of GOP Senators this week in a letter to the president.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed that the president met with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to discuss the matter.
“This is a subject that the president is spending a great deal of time on, and one that he spoke to the G7 members about during their meetings,” Spicer said Tuesday.
Trump acted quickly to unwind Barack Obama's domestic climate legacy. But exiting the Paris climate accord is a much more geopolitically complicated decision -- and it's taken months for the president to come to a decision.
The New York Times describes the tension from within the White House over the decision.
For a president not steeped in policy intricacies, the decision is vexing. On both sides are voices he profoundly respects: chief executives of some of the world’s largest companies urging him to remain part of the accord and ardent conservatives like Stephen K. Bannon, his chief strategist, and Scott Pruitt, his Environmental Protection Agency administrator, tugging him toward a withdrawal from the 195-country agreement.
Exxon Mobil’s chief executive, Darren W. Woods, wrote recently that remaining in the agreement would be prudent, part of a nearly united corporate front. Within the administration, Gary D. Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council; the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump; and his secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, say the United States can remain a party to the accord even as the administration moves to eviscerate the Obama-era climate policies that would have allowed the United States to meet its pollution-reduction targets under the agreement.
In a major climate speech Tuesday, the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, exhorted world leaders to stick to their commitments to the accord, calling for “increased ambition” in the face of threats to disengage.
Trump just wrapped up his first international trip, where he was pressured by world leaders to support the accord.
Members of the administration are offering more positive public takes. Speaking on Face the Nation over the weekend, Defense Secretary James Mattis said the president is keeping an open mind: "I’m quite certain the president is wide open on this issue as he takes in the pros and cons of that accord.”
Trump's top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, also told reporters last week that the president's position on climate is "evolving" after his recent trip. "He feels much more knowledgeable on the topic today. He came here to learn; he came here to get smarter."
However, CBS News is also reporting that the president is "telling people close to him the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change."