Trump to announce decision on Paris climate deal Thursday - expected to withdraw | News | DW | 01.06.2017
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Trump to announce decision on Paris climate deal Thursday - expected to withdraw

US President Donald Trump has said he'll announce his decision on the Paris climate accord on Thursday. The European Union has said it stands ready to show leadership in the face of a possible US withdrawal.

US President Donald Trump will announce his decision on US participation in the Paris climate accord on Thursday, he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday, sparking a flurry of international responses.  

"You're going to find out very soon," Trump told reporters. "I'm hearing from a lot of people, both ways. Both ways."

After  G7 talks last week, many fear that Trump will withdraw the United States from the pact. He campaigned on the notion that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by foreign rivals to hamper US trade. Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, had helped negotiate the accord in Paris in 2015. 

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An anonymous White House official told the Associated Press that Trump was expected to withdraw from the agreement, but said there may be "caveats in the language" that Trump uses, leaving open the possibility that a decision wouldn't be final.

Several US news outlets including Politico and Axios cited unnamed White House officials for reports that Trump was planning to pull out of the deal.

Axios reported that the White House would either withdraw through a formal process of leaving the agreement or by canceling the UN climate treaty on which the Paris deal is based.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had refused on Wednesday to confirm whether the president already made a decision. 

'Europe ready to show leadership'

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in Berlin that the European Union could not accept a US withdrawal. 

"The Americans cannot get out of this climate protection agreement," he said.

European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said in Brussels that a US withdrawal would be disappointing but that the European Union stands ready to take global leadership on the issue.

"If they decide to withdraw, it would be disappointing, but I do not believe this will change the course of history," Sefcovic said. "There is a much stronger expectation from our partners across the world from Africa, Asia and China that Europe should assume leadership in this effort and we are ready to do that."

He told Trump that there was "no plan B because there is no planet B."

Both the EU and China will reaffirm their commitment to the Paris climate change accord this week regardless of Trump's decision, Associated Press and AFP news agencies reported, citing senior EU officials and a draft joint statement.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was due to meet European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday with hopes of forging an answer to Trump's "America First" challenge.

'Big setback'

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the world to intensify action to combat climate change in a speech Tuesday.

"Climate change is undeniable. Climate change is unstoppable. Climate solutions provide opportunities that are unmatchable," he said.

France's ambassador to the US said on Wednesday that the Paris climate change deal does not infringe on US sovereignty.

"The Paris accord is a political agreement. It doesn't infringe on US sovereignty. National commitments are voluntary and may be amended," Ambassador Gerard Araud said in a tweet, adding that major American corporations had expressed their support for the deal.

Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila told his country's parliament Wednesday that a US withdrawal would be a big setback.

"If this is true, it is a big setback. Then, we must find partners to continue, because this work must not stop," he said, adding that climate change was a priority for Finland in the Arctic Council as well as the EU.

Martin Schulz, the leader of the Social Democratic Party, which forms a coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, said a US withdrawal would put European companies at a major competitive disadvantage. Schulz called for future free trade agreements to include stipulations on climate protection standards. 

"Climate change is not a fairytale. It is a tough reality which affects peoples' daily lives," European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said in a statement.

"People die or are obliged to leave their homes because of desertification, lack of water, exposure to disease, extreme weather conditions. If we don't act swiftly and boldly, the huge human and economic cost will continue to increase," Tajani added.

Industry reacts

Smoke billows from a large steel plant as a Chinese labourer works at an unauthorized steel factory (Getty Images/K. Frayer)

The US and China are the two biggest carbon dioxide emitters

US coal company shares dipped alongside renewable energy stocks after Trump's announcement on Wednesday, reflecting concerns of a global backlash against coal interests should the US withdraw.

Tech entrepreneur and Tesla founder Elon Musk said Wednesday he would step down from Trump's business advisory councils if withdrew from the agreement, potentially deepening the rift between the tech world and the Trump administration, which have been at odds over immigration and other issues.

Climate change deniers in charge

Upon assuming the presidency, Trump set about installing climate change deniers to the US's highest environmental posts. He has been supported in his efforts by large corporations that deal and coal and petroleum and several prominent Republicans, including the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell.

The deal would limit warming through a concentrated effort to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other harmful gases. The United States is the world's second largest emitter, after China, which has four times the population. 

Canada, China, the EU member states and other countries whose efforts to limit global warming are crucial have pledged to remain true to their commitments. At the moment, the only nations that have declined to endorse the pact agreed to by 195 countries are Nicaragua and Syria.

During last week's summits in Europe, international leaders and even Pope Francis urged Trump not to renege on the deal.

aw, mkg/sms (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)