President Donald Trump won’t decide on whether to keep the U.S. in the landmark Paris climate accord until after he meets world leaders at the Group of Seven summit later this month, a delay that reflects White House tensions over the choice.
Putting off the determination creates an opening for the leaders of Germany, U.K. and other G-7 nations to make their case to Trump for staying in the deal. The postponement also allows more time for top administration officials to hash out the potential benefits and legal risks of remaining in the global carbon-cutting pact reached among nearly 200 nations in December 2015.
And by waiting until after the summit to make up his mind, Trump could press world leaders for concessions in exchange for maintaining U.S. involvement.
“The president wants to make sure that he has an opportunity to meet with his team to create the best strategy for this country going forward,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters, when asked about the possibility. Trump will “come to a decision on what’s in the best interest of the United States using the expertise that surrounds him,” he said.
White House staff and top Trump administration officials have huddled at least three times to discuss the merits of the deal, through which the U.S. pledged to cut its carbon dioxide emissions 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.
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A meeting originally planned for Tuesday was postponed because of a conflict with the schedule of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has argued the U.S. should keep its seat at the table for international climate negotiations. The president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, also supports staying in the pact. White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt have urged abandoning it, arguing that staying in could pose legal risks to Trump’s efforts to roll back regulations.
Spicer had previously said the White House would have a decision by the time of the G-7 summit in Italy, if not sooner. And during an April 29 rally in Pennsylvania, Trump promised to make a “big decision” on the Paris accord over the next two weeks. But the split among his advisers has delayed that choice.
While running for president, Trump promised the U.S. would leave the deal, taking aim at the cornerstone of former President Barack Obama’s efforts to combat climate change. Under Obama, the U.S. played a leading role driving the global accord.