As President Donald Trump is expected to announce his intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement on Thursday, he’s at odds with an overwhelming majority of Americans, including most Republicans and even his own voters.
Americans in every state favor participating in the Paris Accord, the first global pact aimed at curtailing greenhouse gas emissions and limiting the use of fossil fuels, according to a study by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication published last month.
Nearly half (47 percent) of Trump voters said the U.S. should participate in the Paris agreement, which was signed by 195 countries in November 2015, compared to 28 percent who said the U.S. shouldn’t. (A quarter said they didn’t know what to think about the deal.) By comparison, 86 percent of Democrats believe the U.S. should participate.
So who has Trump’s back on his threats to withdraw? And in pulling out of the agreement, a campaign-trail pledge, what constituency is Trump serving?
In the Yale study, conservative Republican voters were the most divided on the issue, with 34 percent saying the U.S. should not participate. But a slightly larger share, 40 percent, still said the U.S. should. (26 percent didn’t know.)
Trump has some support for withdrawal in Washington. The head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, denies some of the effects of man-made climate change and sees no benefit to America in joining a pact on combating global warming. And a group of conservative Republican senators, including Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell, sent a letter to Trump last Thursday asking him to make a “clean exit” from the Paris agreement and applauding his ongoing effort to reduce “the regulatory burdens” American businesses face.
Then again, the majority of the businesses supposedly obstructed by climate regulations largely favor staying in the climate pact. In April, two U.S. coal mining companies, Cloud Peak and Peabody Energy, advised Trump to not withdraw from the agreement.
In May, 30 CEOs of major U.S. companies, including Goldman Sachs and Unilever, wrote an open letter urging Trump to keep to the climate agreement.
“Our business interests are best served by a stable and practical framework facilitating an effective and balanced response to reducing global GHG emissions,” the letter said. “The Paris Agreement gives us that flexible framework to manage climate change while providing a smooth transition for business.”
The chief executive of oil and gas giant ExxonMobil, which until recently was led by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, also sent a personal letter to Trump last month urging him to stay in the pact. Tillerson, for his part, has expressed modest support of the accord, stating at a Senate hearing in January that the United States is “better served by being at that table than by leaving that table.”
The shifting attitude toward climate change from businesses reflects growing concern on the issue among all Americans.
A recent poll by Gallup showed that 70 percent of Americans believed that global warming was occurring, and 45 percent said they worry “a great deal” about global warming, a record high.
Only two countries — Syria and Nicaragua — did not participate in the Paris agreement back in 2015. Trump is expected to announce his decision on the deal Thursday afternoon from the White House Rose Garden, the same place President Obama announced U.S. participation in the pact two years ago.