WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump is expected to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, despite mounting pressure from international allies and even the pope.
Word of Trump’s decision emerged Wednesday morning with the information in several published reports attributed to an anonymous White House source.
According to those reports, Trump is intent on walking away from the landmark climate agreement, as he promised to do on the campaign trail in 2016.
However, he can’t do so unilaterally, and he also reportedly wants to include “caveats in the language” of his departure announcement so that the US can opt back in to the agreement at a future date if it wants to.
Trump faced considerable pressure to hold to the deal during visits with European leaders and Pope Francis during his recently completed trip to Europe and the Middle East. But he remained noncommittal to the end.
On Wednesday, reaction from many of those same leader was swift.
A senior EU official said Wednesday morning the European Union and China would reaffirm their commitment to the Paris climate change accord at talks in Brussels on Friday.
The official told reporters that the EU and China will also “spell out” how they plan to meet their commitments to the landmark international accord to fight global warming.
Trump is scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to discuss the possible ramifications of backing out of the deal.
Tillerson, the former head of ExxonMobil, has advocated staying in the pact. But he has often seemed like a lone voice in the administration in that regard.
Chief White House strategist Stephen Bannon has been arguing for the U.S. to withdraw almost since the moment the deal was struck by the Obama administration.
He struck a similar tone when he advised the president to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
Nearly 200 nations have signed onto the agreement since it was ratified. During his campaign, Trump called the Paris Agreements “stupid” and a “job killer.” Only Syria and Nicaragua are not members of the accord.
On Wednesday morning, the president hinted at his intentions known publically when he tweeted, “I will be announcing my decision on the Paris Accord over the next few days. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
But, if the U.S. does opt out, as the world’s second largest greenhouse gas producer, the move could prompt other nations to follow suit and kick off a negative environmental ripple effect: nations who reluctantly signed the agreement could be encouraged to ease their own commitments to curb pollution.
The terms of the agreement state that the U.S. cannot officially withdraw until November 2019.
The Trump administration has actively pursued overturning Obama-era environmental rules since taking office. In March, the president signed an executive order instructing the EPA to review the Clean Power Plan and in effect, began dismantling it.
The Clean Power Plan was on track to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by power plants up to 32 percent by 2030 and put the energy and utility industry back on track to 2005 pollution levels.
In addition to environmental hurdles that stepping out on the Paris Accord may create, the U.S. also risks losing policy leverage over rival superpowers who have already promised to support efforts to fight climate change.
During a speech at New York University on Tuesday, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres offered a word of warning to the administration about the dangers which lurk in isolationist atmospheres.
“If one country decides to leave a void, I can guarantee someone else will occupy it. If you leave a void for others to occupy, you might be creating a problem to your own internal security,” Gutteres said.
Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune issued a statement on Wednesday, calling Trump’s possible decision to withdraw a “historic mistake” that will show future generations “how a world leader could be so divorced from reality and morality.”
“Trump has abandoned the standard of American leadership, turned his back on what the public and the market demand and shamelessly disregarded the safety of our families just to let the fossil fuel industry eke out a few more dollars in profit,” Brune said. “This is a decision that will cede America’s role internationally to nations like China and India, which will benefit handsomely from embracing the booming clean energy economy while Trump seeks to drive our country back into the 19th century.”
Brune emphasized that the buck on environmental protections wouldn’t simply stop if the president opts out of the agreement. Their organization has helped retire more than 250 polluting coal plants thus far and has received commitments from more than 25 U.S. cities to commit to renewable clean energy sources by 2030.
“Make no mistake, the Paris Agreement was adopted after decades of climate advocacy by concerned citizens across America and around the world and it certainly will not be derailed by the ignorance of one man,” Brune added.
Mike Tadeo, a spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute, said “While API has not taken a position on the agreement, we have always said that Paris was a missed opportunity to talk about how the United States is leading the world in the production and refining of oil and natural gas, and leading the world in reducing carbon emissions. The United States is now near 30 year lows in carbon emissions from electricity generation. Instead of government mandates that could increase energy costs, the world should embrace our nation’s energy renaissance that has lowered costs for consumers, benefitted American workers and improved the environment.”