Trump is poised to withdraw from Paris climate pact — unless he changes his mind

Indications from White House officials that President Trump was heading toward pulling the U.S. out of the Paris accord on climate change set off a worldwide reaction Wednesday, continuing the public drama around a decision that has been agonized and untidy even by the standards of a White House known for palace intrigue.

The day began with officials telling news organizations that Trump had settled on pulling out of the climate agreement, generating a reaction in which people around the world jumped in to try to influence or spin his decision, from European leaders to the coal industry to the state of California.

That offered a foretaste of the reaction Trump likely will receive if he does follow through on his vow to pull the United States out of the 197-party- pact, which President Obama hailed in 2015 as one of his major achievements.

Already, other nations have moved to take over the leadership role on climate that the United States would be abandoning. Some states have followed suit, promising they would break with Washington to work with other countries in their efforts to contain global warming.

Democrats and environmentalists warned that an exit from the Paris accord would be reckless and ultimately hurt the U.S. Some noted that no other country has said it would join the U.S. in withdrawing or reducing its commitment. Only two nations, Nicaragua and Syria, have declined to join the Paris agreement.

“Breaking our commitment to the Paris climate agreement will leave our country isolated and ill-prepared for the challenges we face,” Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said in a statement.

The process of fully leaving the agreement is complicated and could take several years. It would not be until October 2020, near the end of Trump’s current term, that the United States could fully withdraw under the terms of the deal.

An alternative, more drastic, route would be to pull out of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change, which the Paris agreement is built on top of. The U.S. joined the framework in 1992. Withdrawing from it could be difficult, however, because, unlike the Paris agreement, the framework was considered a treaty and was ratified by the Senate.

As Trump mulls what to do, California and several other states with robust clean energy policies are putting out word they will only intensify their climate efforts, which combined would have more impact on climate change than the steps taken by most of the nations that have signed the Paris accord.

That is a point not lost on European nations.

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“If they decide to pull out, it would be disappointing, but I really don’t think this would change the course of mankind,” said European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic. He noted that city, state and business leaders across the U.S. recognize the economic opportunities presented by increasing production of renewable energy and transitioning economies to cleaner technologies.

Gov. Brown, who is leading a large coalition of countries, states and cities that have pledged to confront climate change even more aggressively than is called for by the Paris accord, has repeatedly emphasized that economic case for combating climate change. He will cement his role as the de facto leader of U.S. climate efforts while in China next week to attend the coalition’s summit.

And even as the White House mapped out its possible exit strategy Wednesday, the California state Senate was passing a bill that would move the state to 100% renewable energy by 2045.

“Trump is going against science. He’s going against reality,” the governor said. “We can’t stand by and give aid and comfort to that.”

Times staff writer John Myers in Sacramento contributed to this report.

Twitter: @evanhalper

Twitter: @alexzavis


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