By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House advisers and Trump administration officials will meet on Thursday to discuss whether the United States should remain in the Paris climate agreement, a White House official said on Wednesday.
The meeting, which will include member of the National Economic Council and cabinet officials such as Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, was scheduled for 1:30 P.M. EDT (1730 GMT) after being postponed earlier this month.
The administration is expected to make a decision on whether to remain a party to the deal by the time leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy nations meet in late May, but members of President Donald Trump’s inner circle are divided on whether to stay or go.
The accord, agreed by nearly 200 countries in Paris in 2015, would limit planetary warming in part by slashing carbon dioxide and other emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. As part of the deal, the United States under Trump’s predecessor President Barack Obama committed to reducing its emissions by between 26 and 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
During the 2016 presidential election campaign Trump described climate change as a hoax that was stifling policies to improve economic growth and said he would consider “cancelling” the Paris agreement. He later said he was open to staying if the U.S. got better terms.
Trump’s advisers have taken different positions on the decision.
Pruitt joins Trump adviser Steve Bannon in opposing the Paris agreement. Trump’s other close advisers, daughter Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner have sided with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who said the U.S. should remain part of the agreement.
Perry has said it would be best to remain but renegotiate the terms.
George David Banks, in charge of international energy issues at the White House National Economic Council, has been receiving feedback from publicly traded coal and oil companies on the Paris decision.
Some major coal companies, including Cloud Peak Energy , have said it would be in their company’s global interest for the U.S. to stay in the pact. [L5N1HC5NC]
Meanwhile, other global companies, ranging from BP to Microsoft to General Mills to Walmart sent a letter to Trump on Wednesday urging the president to keep the U.S. in the agreement to protect their competitiveness.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; additional reporting by Steve Holland; editing by Grant McCool)