(Adds reaction from officials in Finland, France, EU andenvironmental groups; adds detail on market reaction)
By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON, May 31 (Reuters) – President Donald Trump willfollow through on a campaign pledge to pull the United Statesout of a global pact to fight climate change, a source briefedon the decision told Reuters, a move that promises to deepen arift with U.S. allies.
Trump, who has previously called global warming a hoax, didnot confirm the decision in a post on Twitter, saying only, “Iwill be announcing my decision on the Paris Accord over the nextfew days.”
Trump refused to endorse the landmark climate change accordat a summit of the G7 group of wealthy nations on Saturday,saying he needed more time to decide, and promised anannouncement this week.
A U.S. decision to withdraw from the accord could furtheralienate American allies in Europe already wary of Trump andcall into question U.S. leadership and trustworthiness on one ofthe world’s leading issues. A pullout also would be one morestep by the Republican president to erase the legacy of hispredecessor, Democrat Barack Obama, who helped broker the accordand praised it during a trip to Europe this month.
The decision will put the United States in league with Syriaand Nicaragua as the world’s only non-participants in the ParisClimate Agreement. It could have sweeping implications for thedeal, which relies heavily on the commitment of big polluternations to reduce emissions of gases scientists blame for sealevel rise, droughts and more frequent violent storms.
The accord, agreed on by nearly 200 countries in Paris in2015, aims to limit planetary warming in part by slashing carbondioxide and other emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.Under the pact, the United States committed to reducing itsemissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.
Environmental groups derided the Trump administration’sreported decision. The Sierra Club said a U.S. withdrawal fromthe Paris deal would be a “historic mistake.” Friends of theEarth said it would make America the world’s “foremost climatevillain.”
Axios news outlet, which first reported the withdrawal, saiddetails of the pullout are being worked out by a team thatincludes EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, an ally of fossil fuelindustries. The choice is between a formal withdrawal that couldtake three years or leaving the U.N. treaty that the accord isbased on, which would be quicker but more extreme, according toAxios.
International leaders began reacting to the reports ofTrump’s plans.
A withdrawal by the United States would be disappointing butthe European Union stands ready to take global leadership on theissue, European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said inBrussels.
“There is a much stronger expectation from our partnersacross the world from Africa, Asia and China that Europe shouldassume leadership in this effort and we are ready to do that,”Sefcovic added.
France’s ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud,said on Twitter that the Paris agreement “doesn’t infringe onU.S. sovereignty” and noted that major American corporations hadsupported the deal.
Finland’s Prime Minister Juha Sipila said a U.S. withdrawalwould be a big setback, adding that “we must find partners tocontinue, because this work must not stop.”
Trump had vowed during his 2016 presidential campaign to”cancel” the Paris deal within 100 days of becoming president aspart of an effort to bolster U.S. oil and coal industries. Thatpromise helped rally supporters sharing his skepticism of globalefforts to police U.S. carbon emissions.
Trump has repeatedly expressed doubts about climate change,at times calling it a hoax to weaken U.S. industry. Anoverwhelming majority of scientists the human use of fossilfuels for energy is driving climate change.
The decision to withdraw from the climate accord wasinfluenced by a letter from 22 Republican U.S. senators,including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling for an exit,Axios reported.
The United States is the world’s second-biggest carbondioxide emitter behind China.
Supporters of the climate pact are concerned that a U.S.exit could lead other nations to weaken their commitments oralso withdraw, softening an accord that scientists have said iscritical to avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.
Canada, the European Union, and China have said they willhonor their commitments to the pact even if the United Stateswithdraws. A source told Reuters that India had also indicatedit would stick by the deal.
After taking office, however, Trump faced pressure to stayin the deal from investors, international powers and businessleaders, including some in the coal industry. He also had tonavigate a split among his advisers.
Trump aides including Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, lawyerDon McGahn and Peter Navarro, along with EPA chief Pruitt,argued hard for leaving the accord. They said the deal wouldrequire the U.S. government to regulate greenhouse gasemissions, which would hurt business.
Trump’s administration has already begun killing Obama-eraclimate regulations.
The “stay-in” camp, which included Trump’s daughter Ivanka,chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, and Energy Secretary RickPerry, had argued the United States could reduce its voluntaryemission-cuts targets while still keeping a voice within theaccord.
Oil majors Shell and Exxon Mobil have alsosupported the pact along with a number of Republican lawmakers.Several big coal companies, including Cloud Peak Energy,had publicly urged Trump to stay in the deal as a way to helpprotect the industry’s mining interests overseas, though othersasked Trump to exit the accord to help ease regulatory pressureson domestic miners.
Both solar- and coal-related exchange traded funds werewidely underperforming the overall stock market on Wednesday.America’s largest coal miners, FirstSolar fell morethan 3 percent. Arch Coal and Peabody Energywere both down more than 2 percent.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Additional reporting by DoinaChiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)
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