On Wednesday morning, White House officials confirmed that Trump planned to leave the Paris Agreement, though some still argue a decision has yet to be made. Trump’s staff was reportedly divided on the matter, with Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggesting he stay, while EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, chief strategist Steve Bannon, and White House counsel Don McGahn pushed for an exit. Last week, 22 U.S. senators also wrote a letter to Trump encouraging the president to withdraw from the pact, arguing that it could legally prevent him from rescinding the Clean Power Plan—another Obama-era global warming initiative.
Late Wednesday evening, Trump tweeted that he would announce his decision Thursday at 3:00 p.m. at the White House Rose Garden. Trump previously stated on the campaign trail that he would exit the Paris Agreement. In the past, he has referred to global warming as a “hoax.” According to Axios, which was first to report the news that Trump is planning to withdraw, the administration is debating whether to formally exit the pact—a process that could take several years—or simply leave the UN climate change treaty that negotiated the Paris Agreement—a speedier, but more controversial, process.
Regardless of whether Trump stays, most foreign governments are committed to honoring the pact. In March, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry said that all members of the Paris Agreement should “fulfill their commitments,” adding that China would do the same “regardless of how other countries’ climate policies change.” Two months later, the ministry said that Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke with the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, about how the nations “should protect the achievements of global governance, including the Paris agreement.” With the U.S. likely to leave the pact, China aims to be the world’s foremost leader on combatting climate change.
According to the EU’s climate commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete, the EU and China have formed a new alliance in response to Trump’s impending decision. The nations “are joining forces to forge ahead on the implementation of the Paris Agreement and accelerate the global transition to clean energy,” Cañete told The Guardian on Wednesday. As part of their joint efforts, China and the EU have expressed their “highest political commitment” to the agreement, and are encouraging all signatories to do the same.
“For Europe there is no plan B, because we do not have a plan B,” Maroš Šefčovič, the vice president of the EU’s Energy Union, told reporters last week. The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, had harsher words to share on Wednesday, informing members at a student conference that “Europe’s duty is to say … The Americans can’t just leave the climate protection agreement. Mr. Trump believes that because he doesn’t know the details.” Juncker added that European leaders tried to explain the ramifications of leaving the agreement to Trump, but couldn’t get through to the president. “Not everything in international agreements is fake news,” Juncker said.