Trump Poised to Withdraw U.S. From Paris Climate Agreement

President Trump addressed American troops in Taormina, Sicily, on Saturday before returning to Washington. (Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)

President Trump was poised Wednesday to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, two officials with knowledge of the decision said, making good on a campaign pledge but severely weakening the landmark 2015 climate change accord that committed nearly every nation to take action to curb the warming of the planet.

But White House officials cautioned that the decision is not yet final.

Faced with advisers who pressed hard on both sides of the Paris question, Mr. Trump appears to have decided that a continued United States presence in the accord would harm the economy; hinder job creation in regions like Appalachia and the West, where his most ardent supporters live; and undermine his “America First” message. But advisers pressing him to remain in the accord were still pressing up to the final announcement.

The exit of the United States, the world’s largest economy and second-largest greenhouse gas polluter will not dissolve the 195-nation pact, which was legally ratified last year, but it could set off a cascade of events that would have profound effects on the planet. Other countries that reluctantly joined the agreement could now withdraw or soften their commitments to cutting planet-warming pollution.

“The actions of the United States are bound to have a ripple effect in other emerging economies that are just getting serious about climate change, such as India, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton, and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that produces scientific reports designed to inform global policy makers.

Once the fallout settles, he added, “it is now far more likely that we will breach the danger limit of 3.6 degrees,” the average atmospheric temperature increase above which a future of extreme conditions is irrevocable.

The aim of the Paris agreement was to lower planet-warming emissions enough to avoid that threshold.

“We will see more extreme heat, damaging storms, coastal flooding and risks to food security,” Professor Oppenheimer said. “And that’s not the kind of world we want to live in.”

Foreign policy experts said the move could damage the United States’ credibility and weaken Mr. Trump’s efforts to negotiate issues far beyond climate change, like negotiating trade deals and combating terrorism.

“From a foreign policy perspective, it’s a colossal mistake — an abdication of American leadership ” said R. Nicholas Burns, a retired career diplomat and the under secretary of state during the presidency of George W. Bush.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Coral Davenport