The White House has postponed a today meeting to discuss whether the United States should withdraw from the landmark international climate deal struck in Paris under the Obama administration. The White House said late yesterday that the meeting would be rescheduled. This is the second time a meeting of top aides on the issue has been delayed. Trump pledged during the presidential campaign to renegotiate the accord, but he has wavered on the issue since winning the presidency. His top officials have appeared divided about what to do about the deal, under which the United States pledged to significantly reduce planet-warming carbon emissions in the coming decade.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former chief executive of the oil company Exxon, said at his Senate confirmation hearing in January that he supports staying in the deal. But Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has said the Paris pact “is a bad deal for America” that will cost jobs. Ivanka Trump, who serves as an adviser to her father, was supposed to meet separately today with Pruitt and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. The White House did not immediately respond to questions late Monday on whether that meeting would continue.
The Paris accord, signed by nearly 200 nations in 2015, was never ratified by the Senate due to the staunch oppositions of Republicans. It therefore does not have the force of a binding treaty, and the United States could potentially withdraw from the deal without legal penalty. A senior administration official said the president’s inclination has been to leave the pact, but Ivanka Trump set up a review process to make sure he received information from experts in the public and private sector before a making a decision. The official requested anonymity to discuss private conversations.
As speculation continues about how Trump will handle the agreement, Tillerson is set to travel to Alaska for an Arctic Summit council this week amid concerns from other nations that the Trump administration will undermine global efforts to address climate change in the Arctic, where rising temperatures are having a disproportionate effect.
David Balton, a top US diplomat who works on environmental issues, said there would be “no change” in US participation even if Trump ultimately decides to pull out of the Paris pact. “The US will remain engaged in the work that the Arctic Council does on climate change throughout,” Balton said yesterday.
In his prior post as the elected attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt closely aligned himself with the needs of the state’s oil and gas industry. He repeatedly sued the EPA over restrictions on extracting and burning fossil fuels. Among the regulations he opposed in court was the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which sought to place new restrictions on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants with the goal of helping the United States meet its commitments under the Paris accord.