CLIMATE WILDCARD

In or out? Trump is revealing his Paris climate decision like a reality show finale

Obsession
"America First"
Obsession
"America First"

Updated at 10pm EDT.

US president Donald Trump will announce whether the world’s biggest economy will stay in the landmark Paris climate agreement on June 1 in the White House rose garden. The hours leading up to his pending decision have become another reality show moment.

After numerous news reports the morning of May 31—led by Axios and Reuters—that he had decided to exit the deal, environmental groups and executives leapt into action, voicing their opposition through social media, television advertisements, and direct phone calls. “I’m hearing from a lot of people,” Trump told journalists in the Oval Office in response to questions about the agreement. They were urging him “both ways,” he said, promising a decision “soon.”

In Trump’s presidency, it can seem like almost everything is up for negotiation, from long-held campaign trial promises to participation in global agreements to cut carbon emissions. Case in point: In April Trump pledged to “terminate” the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, only to be talked out of it (paywall) by Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and a group of his own economic advisors.

So, could an influential advisor, business giant, or global leader convince Trump that America should remain committed to Paris, too?

Already, public and behind-the-scenes appeals are going on. He ate lunch today with secretary of state Rex Tillerson, who as Exxon CEO endorsed the Paris agreement, and who could be responsible for painful negotiations with the UN if the US were to officially pull out of it. Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump was tasked with heading the review of US involvement in the climate agreement.

Tim Cook, the Apple CEO, called Trump yesterday, Bloomberg reported, urging him to stay in the agreement, and a new television advertisement released today cites JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon and other CEOs encouraging Trump to stay in.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has threatened to quit Trump’s business advisory council if the US leaves the accord:

Meanwhile, a piece published on Fox News, Trump’s favorite news source, cheered the exit today, calling Trump “brave.”

Other business council members have remained mum so far, and have a mixed track record on the issue. PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi has said combating climate change is “absolutely critical” to the world’s future, and Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman funds scholarships to fight it, but former GE head Jack Welch believes former president Barack Obama’s focus on combating climate change was “radical behavior” and holding back the US economy.

Another tech titan who supports Trump, Peter Thiel, has expressed skepticism about the need to severely restrict carbon emissions, the major action of the Paris agreement.

It is hard to know who, if any, of these advisors Trump might be listening to this week—or even if he hasn’t made up his mind already. But the nation’s attention is focused on the White House, and that’s just the way he seems to like it.

home our picks popular latest obsessions search