Reports: Trump plans to withdraw from Paris climate agreement

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |   Updated June 1, 2017 at 5:48 AM
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May 31 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump plans to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris climate change agreement, unnamed U.S. officials said.

The details on how Trump will withdraw the United States from the accord are not yet clear but Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is working with a small team to determine whether to initiate a formal withdrawal, which could take three years, or to exit from the underlying United Nations climate change treaty, Axios first reported, citing two sources with direct knowledge of the decision.

Though a formal announcement is expected this week, two senior U.S. officials familiar with Trump's plans told CNN the decision could change before Trump makes a public announcement.

The only two countries not currently supporting the deal are Nicaragua and Syria. During the presidential campaign race, Trump vowed to "cancel" the agreement signed by 195 countries. At least 147 parties have ratified the agreement.

Trump made the decision in part after receiving a letter from 22 Republican Senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., calling for a clean exit from the accord, Axios reported.

While supporters of the agreement hope to curb the damage caused to the climate by greenhouse gases, opponents in the United States argue the deal stifles American economic independence and gives competitors an advantage in the global economy.

In a May 2016 speech in North Dakota outlining his energy policies, Trump accused Obama of entering the accord "unilaterally and without the permission of Congress."

"This agreement gives foreign bureaucrats control over how much energy we use right here in America," he said.

The United States is the world's second-largest carbon polluter, following China.

The agreement attempts to curb global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

The deal is partly legally binding and partly voluntary. All countries will be required to take some action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of economic development, by 2020.

Key points in the agreement include peaking greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and achieving a balance between sources of energy in the second half of this century. The process will be reviewed every five years and a $100 billion a year climate finance fund for developing countries is expected to be established by 2020 with further financing in the future.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, of California, said the Paris climate agreement is "our collective moral responsibility" to create a health, sustainable planet.

"In walking away from this agreement, the president is denying scientific truths, removing safeguards that protect our health and our environment, protecting polluters and their dirty energy agenda, and threatening our national and global security," she said Wednesday.

While at last week's G7 conference in Italy, the leaders of France, Japan, Canada, Britain and Italy all urged the United States to remain in the climate deal.

Former President Barack Obama, who spearheaded efforts for the agreement, on May 9 defended the importance of the Paris climate agreement.

"During the course of my presidency, I made climate change a top priority because I believe that of all the challenges that we face, this is the one that will define the contours of this century, more dramatically perhaps than any other," Obama said during a summit in Italy. "We have been able to bring our emissions down even as we grow our economy."

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