Greenpeace: Paris decision delayed, but U.S. wasting an opportunity

Trump holding off on taking action on the climate deal to vet considerations from his team.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  May 10, 2017 at 7:47 AM
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May 10 (UPI) -- The transition to clean energy is already under way and the United States will be left behind if it leaves the Paris climate deal, Greenpeace said.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters President Donald Trump was delaying a decision related to commitments to the Paris climate agreement until after a late May meeting of the Group of Seven economies in Italy. A decision was expected at some point this week, though Spicer said the president was still vetting opinions from administration officials.

"I think the reason that he is seeking the advice of his team is to get options, and then he'll pursue the best one," he said. "But I'm not going to tell you which one that he's going to do."

From the campaign trail last year, Trump said he doubted climate change was the result of human activity and vowed to pull the United States out of the Paris climate deal once in office. In a late November interview with The New York Times, he said he had an "open mind" on the pact.

A pro-oil president, Trump has signed measures to advance oil pipelines and offshore drilling since taking office. Last week, the Western Energy Alliance, a trade group representing the business interests of the exploration and production sector in several western states, said Trump should pull out of the Paris agreement for the sake of oil and gas industries.

Travis Nichols, a spokesperson for Greenpeace, told UPI that leaving Paris would mean the United States would be stepping away from momentum already building for a low-carbon global economy.

"The transition to clean energy will continue around the world, the only question is whether the United States will be a part of it, or if we'll be left behind," he said.

This week, lead climate researchers and treaty negotiators told IRIN, a former U.N. news agency, the Paris deal could be stronger without the United States given Trump's pro-oil energy policies. When the president tried to reverse clean-energy policies enacted by his predecessor in March, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the White House had launched a "spiteful assault" on legislation meant to advance a low-carbon U.S. economy.

Trump's spokesman said the president continues to weigh the Paris agreement against national, economic and environmental concerns "and come to a decision on what's the best interest of the United States using the expertise that surrounds him."

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