Senior advisers differ on whether to quit the climate change pact, as supporters say exit could weaken U.S. credibility abroad.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s team is deeply divided over whether the United States should withdraw from the Paris climate accord, ahead of an imminent decision on the issue, The New York Times reported on Friday.
Senior adviser Steve Bannon is pressing the president to quit the historic agreement reached by 194 countries in December 2015 to fight global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy and government officials told the newspaper. That would make good on a key campaign promise by climate skeptic Trump.
However, the officials added, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a former ExxonMobil CEO, and Trump’s own influential daughter Ivanka reject that position. They are concerned that quitting the accord, negotiated under former president Barack Obama, would weaken U.S. credibility abroad and hurt ties with major allies.
Trump also is reported to be planning to reduce the staff of the Environmental Protection Agency by 20 percent. Trump appointee Scott Pruitt now leads the agency. As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt filed 14 lawsuits against EPA regulations.
As early as next week, Trump plans to sign an executive order to begin the process of dismantling Obama-era regulations that require carbon power plants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Those restrictions on power plant emissions were key if the United States is to meet its commitments under the Paris agreement.
Although Trump cannot unilaterally dismantle the accord, he can initiate the process for a U.S. exit from the agreement.
The United States is the world’s biggest economy and the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide after China, and its exit would be a major blow to global efforts to combat climate change. But it would show Trump supporters that he is keeping his promises to protect the U.S. coal industry.
Since the election, Trump has said only that he was an open mind on the issue.