28 May 2017

Trump tells 'confidants' US will quit Paris climate deal - reports

7:25 pm on 28 May 2017

US President Donald Trump has reportedly told 'confidants,' including the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, that he plans to leave a landmark international agreement on climate change.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, 
Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi and Donald Trump at the G7 Summit expanded session, on May 27, 2017 in Taormina, Sicily.

Mr Trump's attitude to climate change made the G7 talks "very difficult" said German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left). Photo: AFP

The Axios news outlet cited three sources with direct knowledge in its report.

That is despite US defence secretary James Mattis saying in an interview to air on Sunday that the president was now "wide open" on the issue.

On Saturday, Mr Trump said in a Twitter post he would make a decision on whether to support the Paris climate deal next week.

The President has previously threatened to pull out of the agreement.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A source who has been in contact with people involved in the decision told Reuters a couple of meetings were planned with chief executives of energy companies and big corporations and others about the climate agreement ahead of Mr Trump's expected announcement later in the week.

It was unclear whether those meetings would still take place.

"I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!" he tweeted on the final day of a Group of Seven (G7) summit in Italy at which he refused to bow to pressure from allies to back the landmark 2015 agreement.

The summit of G7 wealthy nations pitted Mr Trump against the leaders of Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Japan on several issues, with European diplomats frustrated at having to revisit questions they had hoped were long settled.

Mr Trump, who has previously called global warming a hoax, came under concerted pressure from the other leaders to honour the 2015 Paris Agreement on curbing carbon emissions.

Although he tweeted that he would make a decision next week, his apparent reluctance to embrace the first legally binding global climate deal that was signed by 195 countries clearly annoyed German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"The entire discussion about climate was very difficult, if not to say very dissatisfying," she told reporters.

"There are no indications whether the United States will stay in the Paris Agreement or not."

What is the Paris accord?

The Paris deal is the world's first comprehensive climate agreement, set out in 2015, with the aim of keeping the global average rise in temperatures below 2C.

In order to do that, countries pledged to reduce their carbon emissions.

But it came into force only after being ratified by 55 countries, which between them produce 55 percent of global carbon emissions.

Barack Obama signed the US up in September 2016, and members of the G7 are keen for the US to continue to back it, not least because the country is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gasses after China.

- Reuters / BBC

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs