President Donald Trump delayed a decision on withdrawing from the landmark Paris climate accord amid disagreements about the nature of the pact, the White House said Tuesday.
Trump had originally aimed to announce his intentions before traveling to the summit, held in Sicily at the end of this month. Instead, he will wait until after the G7 to make a decision, according to White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
“I think it’s simply a sign that the President wants to continue to meet with his team,” Spicer told reporters at the White House.
Trump vowed during his presidential campaign to “cancel” US participation in the accord, which obliges countries to slash their greenhouse gas emissions to keep global temperatures from rising to catastrophic levels.
Spicer said Trump has been meeting with his team “extensively” to discuss the issue, which has divided his top advisers as they weigh the ramifications of withdrawing from the carbon reduction agreement.
A meeting scheduled for Tuesday between top Trump advisers was postponed, according to a White House official. The official said the delay came amid scheduling conflicts.
It was the second time a meeting on the Paris accord was scrubbed; an initial conversation between aides about the future of US participation in the accord was pushed back by a week last month.
That session, along with other West Wing meetings to discuss the issue, have become heated as Trump’s advisers air their differences over the Paris agreement.
Some advisers – including chief strategist Steve Bannon and Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt – have urged Trump to uphold his campaign pledge to scrap the agreement. But other top aides, including senior adviser and daughter Ivanka Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have warned of diplomatic fallout from a full withdrawal.
Other members of the administration, including Energy Secretary Rick Perry, have advocated a “renegotiation” of the US commitments to the agreement, but legal questions have been raised about the feasibility of lowering US carbon reduction goals.
Ivanka Trump was originally due to meet with Pruitt privately Tuesday ahead of the larger meeting on top aides. But, like that larger meeting, the session between Ivanka Trump and Pruitt was postponed.
In a conversation Monday, Trump told French President-elect Emmanuel Macron he is “pondering” whether to remain in the Paris Climate Agreement, French Ambassador to the US Gerard Araud told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in Paris on Tuesday.
Macron and Trump spoke over the phone on Monday.
“President Macron raised the issue of climate change, because as you know the Americans are thinking about staying or leaving the Paris agreement,” Araud told Amanpour.
“President Macron emphasized the importance of the Paris Agreement. There was a very good discussion. President Trump said that he was pondering on this issue, and the two men agreed to meet again in two weeks in Brussels,” Araud said.
Meanwhile, at a summit in Milan, Italy, focused on climate change and food availability, President Barack Obama defended the Paris agreement earlier Tuesday, saying the US must show leadership and not “sit on the sidelines.”
“During the course of my presidency, I made climate change a top priority because I believe that of all the challenges that we face, this is the one that will define the contours of this century, more dramatically perhaps than any other,” Obama said at the Seeds & Chips summit.
“We have been able to bring our emissions down even as we grow our economy. The same is true in many parts of Europe,” he said.
CNN’s Nic Robertson, Jacopo Prisco and Angela Dewan contributed to this report.