WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump tweeted late Wednesday that his decision on whether to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate change agreement would be announced Thursday afternoon in the White House Rose Garden.
The tweet came after a day of speculation on what Trump would do about the landmark pact, struck in 2015 and signed by nearly every country to collectively combat global warming.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer could not say earlier Wednesday whether the president had already made up his mind, telling reporters that Trump will be the “ultimate decider.”
The lack of clarity was compounded as U.S. officials speaking on the condition of anonymity told several news outlets that Trump is leaning toward leaving the landmark accord.
Trump as a candidate said he would pull out of the pact and stop payments to United Nations efforts to fight global warming. He had tweeted in past years, as a private citizen, that he believes climate change is a “hoax” perpetrated by China to better compete with U.S. manufacturing.
Trump did not answer a reporter’s question Wednesday on whether he still believes it is a hoax.
Competing factions of advisers in the White House — including Steve Bannon and Ivanka Trump — and business leaders outside of it have urged the president in opposing directions.
The president acknowledged as much to reporters Wednesday, saying, “I’m hearing from a lot of people both ways.”
Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla and SpaceX, tweeted that he would “have no choice” but to forfeit his positions on Trump’s business advisory and manufacturing jobs councils if the president decides to pull out of the Paris accord. Musk said he’s done everything he can to lobby Trump to stay.
Trump has portrayed multilateral deals as putting the United States at an economic disadvantage.
His European counterparts, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have pressured him to stay on.
“I will be announcing my decision on Paris Accord, Thursday at 3:00 P.M. The White House Rose Garden. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Trump tweeted late Wednesday after an earlier post said he would reveal his position in a matter of days.
Environmental groups and Democrats renewed their arguments that the United States must remain committed.
Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune called potentially pulling out of the pact “a historic mistake which our grandchildren will look back on with stunned dismay.”
The United Nations tweeted: “Climate change is undeniable. Climate action is unstoppable. Climate solutions provide opportunities that are unmatchable.”
There is “irrefutable data” in rising temperatures and sea levels, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said.
“This scientific question has been settled for years, yet the few deniers who are still out there have gained outsized and dangerous influence with our President at the expense of our safety and security,” she said in a statement.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio denounced the prospect of leaving the deal as detrimental to the area.
Syria and Nicaragua are the only countries that don’t participate in the agreement — the latter refusing because it said the agreement did not go far enough to protect the planet.
With Laura Figueroa