In a move widely interpreted as an expression of President Donald Trump’s disdain for the Paris Climate Agreement, the US has sent a delegation of just seven representatives to a climate change meeting in Bonn, Germany. Envoys from the 195 signatory countries of the landmark agreement are gathered in the German city to discuss guidelines for its implementation, but the small contingent sent by the US has sparked concerns that the world’s second biggest polluter could be on the brink of pulling out of the accord. The reported division between those in the White House who argue that the US should remain in the agreement and those who say it should withdraw could be settled as early as tonight when Trump is expected to announce his decision.
According to the Washington Post, political adviser Steve Bannon and head of the EPA Scott Pruitt are pushing for the US to withdraw from the agreement, while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump say the US should stay in it.
The disagreement hinges on whether the US is better off inside or outside the agreement as it pursues its pro-fossil fuel growth strategy – one that will likely be contested in the courts by environmental groups. The withdrawal camp argue that remaining in the agreement will expose the White House to litigation on the grounds that it is failing to meet its commitments under the Paris accord, while those who argue to remain in the agreement point out that those commitments are nonbinding, meaning they can be pared back without the need to withdraw entirely.
Under the agreement signed in Paris in 2015, the US pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 28% below 2005 levels by the year 2025.
The meeting in Bonn, to which France sent 42 delegates, and under Obama had seen a US contingent of 44, is discussing a range of issues to do with how targets are measured and funding is made available in time for a midterm review of the agreement’s progress next year.