President Donald Trump will face intense pressure from America’s closest allies to remain in the Paris Climate Agreement when he meets with the G-7 group of global leaders in Italy this weekend. The White House is already sending signals that he could be open to reversing his position and remaining in the agreement.
Trump spent both the primary and general elections vowing to rip up the Paris accord, calling it “bad for business.” But influential White House economic adviser Gary Cohn told reporters Thursday that Trump would be open to hearing from the EU and Canada on the matter.
“The president has told you that he’s going to ultimately make a decision on Paris and climate when he gets back,” Cohn said aboard Air Force One, according to AFP. “He’s interested to hear what the G-7 leaders have to say about climate.”
Press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed that Trump is expected to announce his decision after the G7 meetings in Taormina, Italy. A spokesperson for the State Department told VICE News that there is currently no timeline for a decision.
That makes the multilateral meetings all the more important for the deal, hence the full-court press by America’s Western allies.
During a NATO meeting in Brussels this week, French President Emmanuel Macron urged Trump to stay in the agreement. “My wish is that the United States takes no hurried decision,” Macron told reporters after the meeting. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier this week she would add her voice to the effort. “I am still trying to convince the doubters,” she said Tuesday.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will also join the effort to coax Trump into staying in the Paris agreement, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters Friday in Taormina. “We believe climate change is one of the greatest threats facing Canadians and the world, and it is a threat which is a global threat and which needs global solutions,” Freeland said.
The 2015 Paris agreement, the world’s first comprehensive climate agreement, has been ratified by 195 nations and aims to hold global warming to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in order to significantly reduce the fast pace of climate change, and make the world’s nations better able to adapt to a warming planet.
If Trump does decide to pull out of the deal, it would be quite easy: The administration could remove the country from the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that set up the Paris agreement. To leave the Paris agreement itself, the U.S. would have to wait the minimum three years stipulated in its text.
If the U.S. — the world’s second-largest emitter, responsible for 18 percent of global greenhouse gases — pulls out of the agreement, it could tank the historic deal, making it politically acceptable for other countries to shirk their commitments.
Back home, the politics of the deal remain divisive. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that withdrawing from the deal would be a “a historic misstep that would massively disadvantage both American businesses and diplomats and our environment.” Some 40 Senate Democrats sent a letter to the president to that end, encouraging him to remain in the agreement.
A reply letter from 20 Republican congressmen urged to the president to “make a clean exit from the Paris agreement so that your administration can follow through on its commitment to rescind the Clean Power Plan.”
Cohn, even as he said the president would be open to hearing from his European and Canadian allies, told AFP that the Obama administration’s climate commitments “would be highly crippling to the U.S. economic growth.”
Trump’s own head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, is an avowed enemy of the deal, telling “Fox & Friends” in April that “Paris is something that we need to really look at closely. It’s something we need to exit, in my opinion.”