The Trump administration postponed a meeting to discuss the Paris climate change agreement for the second time Tuesday, prompting suspicions of widening discord in the White House and fears that the U.S. will pull out. The meeting will be rescheduled, according to a report by Politico though the future date is uncertain.
Early on his campaign, President Trump vowed to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, a landmark 2015 deal that brought together 197 countries to reduce carbon emissions to combat global warming.
Though the Obama administration officially ratified the agreement in 2016, it did so under the authority of an “executive agreement,” bypassing the two-thirds Senate vote needed to approve treaties. Thirteen Senate Republicans penned a letter to then-Secretary of State John Kerry stating that type of agreement was “one of the lowest forms of commitment the United States can make and still be considered a party to an agreement.”
Trump made cancelling the agreement a key part of his rhetoric during the campaign. “We’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs,” Trump said in a speech in North Dakota on the campaign trail in 2016.
Though Trump has yet to fulfill that campaign promise, Trump once called global warming a hoax and his proposed budget in March suggested slashing funding to climate change initiatives, notably Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce greenhouse gases. Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Scott Pruitt, told Fox News in March that the Paris deal was a “bad business deal for America.”
However, mixed signals have emerged from his inner circle. Notably, Ivanka Trump, a senior adviser to the President, has reportedly wanted to take the lead on climate change, an unnamed source told Politico. Additionally, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson articulated his support for the deal in his Senate confirmation hearing in January and reaffirmed that climate change posed real threats.
While pulling out of the Paris deal might please the fossil fuels and automotive industry, a wide swath of corporate America is pressuring the Trump Administration to stay in the accord. In April, a group of multinational companies including Apple, DuPont, BP and Shell sent a letter “expressing our support for continued participation by the United States in the Paris climate change agreement.”
Also in favor of staying in the accord, is a “a slew of foreign policy advisers and career diplomats,” according to The New York Times who think it would problematic it would be for the U.S. to pull out.
“If one nation, especially the biggest nation … if they do not recognize a problem, then we will have trouble dealing with climate change,” General Denis Mercier, NATO’s supreme allied commander for transformation, told Reuters.