Two senior US officials familiar with his plans told CNN Wednesday, a major break from international partners that would isolate the United States in global efforts to curb global warming.
The decision, which will be announced this week, would put the US at odds with nearly every other nation on earth.
It would reflect a major reversal of the Obama administration’s efforts on climate change. And it could trigger further efforts to erode the landmark climate accord.
Trump told reporters Wednesday that he would announce his intentions “very soon.”
“I’m hearing from a lot of people both ways,” he said as he met with Vietnam’s prime minister in the Oval Office.
The precise mechanism for withdrawal hasn’t yet been determined, and White House officials cautioned the plans could change until Trump makes his decision public. Language for the withdrawal was still being prepared Wednesday, and will likely include specific legal conditions crafted by Trump’s administration.
In conversations over the past week, Trump has made clear he plans to fulfill his campaign promises to withdraw from the carbon reduction agreement, citing negative effects on jobs in the areas where he won a large percentage of the vote, including states in the Rust Belt and the western plains.
But Trump has changed his mind in the past on major issues, and was still speaking to opponents of withdrawal even as his team prepared an announcement. He is set to meet Wednesday afternoon with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who supports remaining in the agreement. On Tuesday, Trump met with a key voice advocating for withdrawal, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt.
Speaking Wednesday, press secretary Sean Spicer said he wasn’t sure whether Trump had made a final decision on withdrawing from the Paris agreement.
“I obviously don’t know whether he’s made it,” Spicer said during an afternoon briefing. “When the President has a decision he will make that announcement and he will make it clear what the basis of that is.”
I will be announcing my decision on the Paris Accord over the next few days. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2017
The Paris climate agreement was established during a 2015 conference in the French capital. Every nation signed on minus two: war-torn Syria and Nicaragua, who insists the deal isn’t tough enough. In signing onto the accord, countries pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but were given wide leeway in how much they planned to reduce them by.
The President’s decision comes after months of internal debate and speculation about what Trump, who campaigned on leaving the deal, would do once he took office. Trump faced intense pressure on both sides, including from his senior advisers and family.
The White House was initially slated to make a final decision on the climate accord earlier this month, but delayed the decision until the G7 meeting in Sicily. At the summit, leaders expressed dismay at Trump’s climate stance. After the meetings concluded, the US refused to sign onto a statement of support for the Paris accord that all other G7 participants approved.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters the climate conversations were unsatisfying. The leaders of the other G7 nations — France, Japan, Canada, the United Kingdom and Italy — all urged Trump to remain a part of the 2015 agreement.
Aides to Trump said he was listening with an open mind to the other leaders’ arguments about Paris, but didn’t feel obligated to heed their calls to remain within the pact. After he returned to Washington, Trump lashed out at Merkel over other matters, including NATO funding and Germany’s trade deficit.
Obama and a host of other countries signed the climate change agreement in 2015 and the former president touted it as the “best chance we have” to save the planet.
“The Paris agreement establishes the enduring framework the world needs to solve the climate crisis,” Obama said, speaking from the White House. “It creates the mechanism, the architecture, for us to continually tackle this problem in an effective way.”
The US committed to reducing carbon emissions by 26-28% in a decade in signing onto the agreement.
The main driver of the reduction was Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which would have closed coal-fired power plants.
Trump has already said he’s reviewing that order, along with other aspects of his predecessor’s climate agenda.