Pulling the United States out of the Paris climate deal would have unforeseen consequences for President Trump, his international agenda and U.S. climate policy.
It would leave the world’s superpower outside an accord meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that includes nearly every other country in the world, aside from Syria and Nicaragua.
While it is not entirely clear that Trump has made up his mind to end U.S. participation in the deal, sources say that at a minimum, he is leaning in that direction.Here’s how to interpret and understand the decision.
Trump is playing to the base
Trump has called the pact a “bad deal” for the United States, and made withdrawing from it a key component of his “America First” campaign platform.
At an April rally, he called the agreement “one-sided,” and said “the United States pays billions of dollars while China, Russia and India have contributed and will contribute nothing.”
Given his past statements and promises, it isn’t hard to see why Trump would want to pull the United States out of the deal.
Yet the decision has provoked a furious internal battle within the White House, pitting Trump’s family members Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner against adviser Steve Bannon and EPA administrator Steve Pruitt.
Pulling the United States out of the deal means Trump is siding with Bannon and his base over the objections of centrists in his government — and the business community.
Exxon Mobil Corp. and many large American businesses urged Trump to stay in the deal, arguing it would maintain U.S. influence over future talks.
“By remaining a party to the Pars agreement, the United States will maintain a seat at the negotiating table to ensure a level playing field so that all energy sources and technologies are treated equitably in an open, transparent and competitive global market,”
Exxon CEO Darren Woods wrote in a May 9 letter to Trump.
By pulling out of the Paris accord, Trump would be signaling he’s willing to take on supporters of the deal who are usually his allies — in order to back his core base of supporters.
Many Republicans on Capitol Hill are likely to support pulling out of Paris — 20 leading Senate Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) asked Trump to do just that last week.
Withdrawing from Paris would greatly please conservative groups, who have orchestrated an all-out push in opposition to the pact.