A much-anticipated meeting of key White House aides to decide whether the United States will be in or out of the Paris Climate accord—with Donald Trump himself rumoured likely to attend—was abruptly postponed on Tuesday, as the administration appeared paralyzed by its own divisions on the subject.
“Trump’s top advisers were set to meet to provide a recommendation [on the accord] ahead of a G7 meeting in May,” The Guardian reports. “However, a White House official said the meeting had been postponed due to conflicting schedules. It is unclear when it will now take place.”
Trump has denounced climate change as a “hoax,” and previously swore to take the U.S. out of the 2015 Paris agreement in which an eventual 197 nations—including the world’s most populous, China and India—agreed to take action to keep the planet from warming any more than 2.0ºC above pre-industrial levels.
But his closest advisers have been split on whether the U.S. should keep that promise. While Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt both favour ditching the Paris agreement, the Guardian notes, “the weight of opinion may be in favour of those who support the agreement,” including ‘First Daughter’ Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner.
If the administration follows the desires of the American people, it will stick with the treaty and its commitments, opinion researchers at George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication report. Based on polling done after Trump’s election, they found that “seven in 10 registered voters (69%) say the U.S. should participate in the COP 21 agreement, compared with only 13% who say the U.S. should not.”
The research shows that 86% of Democrats, 61% of Independents (61%), and 51% of Republicans—including 73% of moderate/liberal Republicans—want their country to stay in the landmark global climate deal. “Only conservative Republicans are split, with marginally more saying the U.S. should participate (40%) than saying we should not participate (34%),” George Mason notes.
Even among identified Trump’s voters, “almost half (47%) say the U.S. should participate in the Paris agreement, compared with only 28% who say the U.S. should not.”
The findings were not exactly news: other surveys have found the American public generally accepts the science on climate change, and wants the U.S. to keep its Paris commitments. And several analyses have suggested that even if Trump reneges on his predecessor’s Paris commitment, it would not derail other nations’ momentum under the deal.