The White House is reportedly beginning to prepare to formally withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord.
The official withdrawal would cement a promise President Trump made in the White House Rose Garden in 2017, where he first announced his intention to withdraw from the global climate change agreement signed by every other country.
Trump was widely expected to announce the formality during a Wednesday speech in Pittsburgh but instead bashed the deal.
“I withdrew the United States from the terrible, one-sided Paris Climate accord. It was a total disaster,” Trump told crowds gathered at a natural gas event, before repeating a line from when he first pledged to leave the deal, saying “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
His views on the deal have been widely criticized by Democrats, environmentalists, and even some Republicans, who say the U.S. is abdicating global leadership at a time when urgent action is required to stem the most dangerous impacts of climate change.
Trump has repeatedly boasted about withdrawing the U.S. from the deal, despite the rigid timelines required by the agreement.
Adding to the confusion was a White House readout of Wednesday’s speech, which said “the President announced he is pulling the United States out of the fraudulent, ineffective, and one-sided Paris Climate Accord.”
When asked by The Hill whether the speech constituted a formal withdrawal, a spokesman for the White House said “the president has already announced the U.S. withdraw from the disastrous Paris Climate Accord.” Reporting from the New York Times indicates the formal process is set to begin soon.
If the U.S. indeed begins the process to leave the accord, it would do so just weeks ahead of a UN summit in Chile, where leaders will hammer out final details for complying with the agreement.
The landmark 2015 agreement signed by President Obama requires the U.S. to reduce emissions about 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
While some Republicans may have changed their rhetoric on the realities of climate change, many remain opposed to the deal, arguing the U.S. should not have to make efforts to curb emissions without more efforts from other countries first.
Still, many climate change experts have said the Paris Accord is simply the price of admission to the climate conversation and warn even the near global effort may fall short of the action necessary to limit rising temperatures.
Recommitting the U.S. to the Paris Climate Accord has become something of a box to tick for Democrats running for president on 2020, most of whom have said they would do so their very first day in office.
House Democrats have already taken steps to prevent Trump’s intentions, passing a resolution in May that would block the move.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell backs Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate race The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats insist budget consensus close as talks drag on Manchin backs raising debt ceiling with reconciliation if GOP balks MORE immediately said the bill "will go nowhere."
In anticipation for what was expected to be a personal announcement from Trump on the withdrawal, the Union of Concerned Scientists called such a move “irresponsible and shortsighted.”
“Fortunately, no other country is following President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Milley warns of 'Sputnik moment' for China WSJ publishes letter from Trump continuing to allege voter fraud in PA Oath Keeper who was at Capitol on Jan. 6 runs for New Jersey State Assembly MORE out the door on Paris,” the group said in a statement.