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Trump Set To Announce Decision On Paris Climate Agreement


This afternoon in the White House Rose Garden, President Trump is set to announce whether the U.S. will stay in the Paris climate accord. Yesterday, the president said he's been hearing from a lot of people with opinions about what he should do.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I'm hearing from a lot of people both ways, both ways. Believe it.

MARTIN: So how will the president come down on this? We are joined now by NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley. Hi, Scott.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: It seemed like the president had his mind made up on the campaign trail he. Said time and again that he was going to pull out of the accord. So is there reason to believe otherwise at this point?

HORSLEY: Well, you're absolutely right. The president was very critical of the Paris climate accord during the campaign. He often described it as a bad deal for the United States. Here's just one example.


TRUMP: We're going to cancel the Paris climate agreement and stop...


TRUMP: ...Unbelievable - and stop all payments of the United States tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.

HORSLEY: But the deal also has a lot of supporters, both outside and inside the administration. This has been a real tug of war between the nationalists like Steve Bannon who want the president to pull out and the globalists like Secretary State Rex Tillerson who want the president to stay in.

MARTIN: We'll talk about those competing interests in a moment. But first, what would this even look like, Scott? If he decides to pull out, what are the mechanics of leaving?

HORSLEY: Well, you know, for all the drama surrounding the announcement this afternoon, the U.S. can't actually begin to withdraw from the Paris climate accord until November of 2019. And they have to give a year's notice, so the earliest we could actually withdraw from this treaty would be the day after the 2020 presidential election. The president could pursue an expedited path by pulling out of the underlying U.N. climate agreement, but that is a Senate-approved treaty and would be a little bit of a poke at the Congress.

MARTIN: Yeah. So as I understand it, Scott, there are only two other countries that are not part of this deal, Syria and Nicaragua. And we talk a lot about American exceptionalism, this would take it to a new level. This really would be exceptional in the global order if the U.S. walks away.

HORSLEY: It really would. You know, just yesterday in The Wall Street Journal, there was an op-ed by a couple of the globalists in the administration - H.R. McMaster, the president's national security adviser and Gary Cohn, the head of the National Economic Council - in which they tried to characterize America first. And they said it doesn't mean America alone. But this would be very much America acting on its own.

And there's been criticism that this would really leave the United States on the outside looking in as nearly every other country in the world takes part in this treaty. As with the president's withdrawal from the big Asia-Pacific trade deal, it would be a deliberate retreat from the international engagement, and it would create a vacuum for China and other countries to fill.

MARTIN: We mentioned the president has got some internal tensions within his own administration, differing opinions about this. There are some other differing opinions because his base wants him to walk away, but on the other hand, industry leaders - business leaders - who he pays a lot of attention to are urging him to stay.

HORSLEY: That's right. And some of those business leaders are still running full-page ads today hoping there's an opportunity to sway the president and persuade him to stay in the agreement. Politically, a majority of Americans support the U.S. staying in the Paris climate accord, but it is polarized like so many issues in America.

Conservative Republicans are much less supportive of this deal. And, you know, in many, many issues, Trump plays to his base. Withdraw from the Paris climate accords would be very much in that pattern.

MARTIN: NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley. Hey, thanks, Scott.

HORSLEY: My pleasure, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.
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