It seems as though President Donald Trump may be set to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, possibly as early as the week of May 8.
Back in 2015, the United States entered into the Paris Agreement with 195 countries, reports The Huffington Post. The goal of the agreement was to motivate the involved countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and thereby also help to reduce climate change. The Paris Agreement was the first of its kind to include both the United States and China.
As part of the agreement, the United States pledged to cut levels of emissions present in 2005 by 26 to 28 percent by the year 2025. In order to accomplish this goal, former President Barack Obama's administration created a series of regulations that came to be known as the Climate Action Plan.
According to The Huffington Post, Trump initially vowed to leave the Paris Agreement immediately after assuming office. While his administration has indeed begun to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, he has yet to make an official decision regarding the United States' continued participation in the Paris Agreement.
Officials within the Trump administration have met twice since April 27 to discuss whether the United States should remain a part of the agreement, reports The Washington Post. Those present at the meeting on April 27 included Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, presidential daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner.
"I'm not going to tell the President of the United States let's just walk away from the Paris accord," Perry said the day before the meeting, according to CNN. "But what I'm going to say is, I think we probably need to renegotiate it, and they need to get serious about it."
According to The Huffington Post, members of the Trump administration seem to be split on the appropriate course of action in regards to the Paris Agreement. Tillers, Perry, and Ivanka are reportedly in favor of renegotiating the deal while Pruitt and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon are in favor of pulling out entirely. Some of the disagreement stems from a single sentence in the Paris Agreement, which reads: "A party may at any time adjust its existing nationally determined contribution [NDC] with a view to enhancing its level of ambition."
Those in favor of pulling out entirely argue that this sentence only allows countries to make their climate change policies more aggressive, while those in favor of renegotiating believe that this sentence would allow the United States to relax its commitment to the agreement.
Following the meeting, White House lawyers released a memo that said the administration could face legal ramifications for remaining in the Paris Agreement, reports The Huffington Post. For example, according to a source with knowledge of the meeting, remaining in the agreement could strengthen lawsuits against the White House for its decision to dismantle the Clean Power Plan. White House advisers reportedly met with lawyers form the Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency, and State Department on May 1 to discuss such ramifications.
In addition, an anonymous source in the State Department said that a document has been circulating within the White House that contains legal justification for the United States' departure from the Paris agreement, reports The Huffington Post. The document states that the United States can officially withdraw from the agreement on Nov. 9, 2019, but that withdrawing sooner "would be inconsistent with international law and would not be accepted internationally."
The Huffington Post also reports that, according to an anonymous source close to the administration, Trump is set to make a decision as early as next week. Even if a decision does not come quite that early, it seems as though one will indeed be made soon. On April 29, Trump said that he would make a decision within the next two weeks, reports CNN.
"We will see what happens," he said.