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What you need to know about the Paris Agreement on climate change
This story has been updated.
President Trump is nearing a final decision on whether to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, with one White House official saying Wednesday that the president is leaning toward an exit but three others cautioning that he has not reached a verdict.
The matter has deeply divided the administration for months. Ivanka Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have urged the president to remain in the deal, and White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt have been pushing for a withdrawal.
A withdrawal would put the United States in the same camp as Nicaragua and Syria: a tiny group of countries refusing to participate in the almost universally supported Paris climate change agreement.
Trump added to the intense speculation about the future of the agreement Wednesday morning, tweeting that his decision will be announced “over the next few days.”
Later in the day, he again stoked the uncertainty during a brief appearance with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the White House. He told members of the White House press pool that he would have a decision about the Paris agreement “very soon.”
“I’m hearing from a lot of people, both ways,” he said.
More than 190 nations agreed to the accord in December 2015 in Paris, and 147 have since formally ratified or otherwise joined it, including the United States — representing more than 80 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
A U.S. withdrawal would remove the world’s second-largest emitter and nearly 18 percent of the globe’s present-day emissions from the agreement, presenting a severe challenge to its structure and raising questions about whether it would weaken the commitments of other nations.
Trump has already, through executive orders, moved to roll back key Obama administration policies, notably the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, that comprised a key part of the U.S.’s Paris promise to reduce its emissions 26 percent to 28 percent below their 2005 levels by 2025.
As of 2015, emissions were 12 percent lower, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The Paris decision has deeply divided the administration, with internationalists, such as Tillerson, arguing that it would be beneficial to the United States to remain part of negotiations and international meetings surrounding the agreement, as a matter of leverage and influence.
Conservatives, such as Pruitt, have argued that the agreement is not fair to the United States and that staying in it would be used as a legal tool by environmental groups seeking to fight Trump environmental policies.