Washington: Donald Trump faced last minute pressure from business tycoons, foreign allies and from inside his own White House not to pull out of the Paris accord on curbing climate emissions on Thursday, as the world awaited the US president’s imminent decision.
Trump will announce his verdict on America’s participation in the 196-party accord during a keenly awaited televised address from the White House Rose Garden at 1900 GMT as Oman Daily Observer goes for printing.
Ever the showman, the 70-year-old gave his decision a reality-TV-style tease, refusing to indicate his preference either way and coyly telling reporters “you’re gonna find out very soon.”
Leaks from inside the White House suggested Trump has decided to pull out of the 2015 Paris Agreement, a move that would seriously hamper efforts to cut emissions and limit global temperature increases.
The United States is the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases, after China.
But White House officials also voiced caution, saying the famously unpredictable president could yet decide to delay departure by years or merely review America’s domestic emissions targets.
Meeting those targets largely depends on the actions of US states and businesses, rather than the federal government in Washington.
Opponents of withdrawal — said to include Trump’s own daughter Ivanka — have warned that America’s reputation and its leadership role on the world stage are also at stake, as well as the environment.
Nicaragua and Syria are the only countries not party to the Paris accord, the former seeing it as not ambitious enough and the latter being racked by a brutal civil war.
Trump’s long wind-up has prompted fierce lobbying, with his environmental protection chief Scott Pruitt and chief strategist Steve Bannon urging the president to leave.
“I’m hearing from a lot of people, both ways. Both ways,” Trump said on the eve of his statement.
A dozen large companies including oil major BP, agrochemical giant DuPont, Google, Intel and Microsoft, have also urged Trump to remain part of the deal. Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk said he would have “no choice” but to leave White House-backed business councils if Trump pulls out. On the diplomatic front, German Chancellor Angela Merkel led the remain camp, publicly describing the deal as “essential,” and suggesting other countries would press ahead regardless.
Trump raised alarm bells when he refused to sign up to a pledge on the deal at last week’s G7 meeting in Italy.
Merkel on Saturday labelled the result of the “six against one” discussion “very difficult, not to say very unsatisfactory”. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was less diplomatic, all-but accusing the US president of being ill informed. “I am a transatlanticist. But if the US president in the next hours and days says that he will get out of the Paris accord, then it’s the responsibility of Europe to say: that’s not acceptable.”
He noted that it would take three or four years to exit from the Paris deal, and revealed that world leaders had sought to explain that to Trump at the G7 summit. — Reuters