Donald Trump's withdrawal from Paris agreement is not clear cut, showing he felt pressure from all sides

Donald Trump's withdrawal from Paris agreement is not clear cut, showing he felt pressure from all sides

Donald Trump's withdrawal from Paris agreement is not clear cut, showing he felt pressure from all sides

Updated 2 June 2017, 12:00 AEST

America's withdrawal from the Paris agreement is not clear cut and that's a reflection of the pressure the President's been under to both stay in and pull out of the deal, writes Washington correspondent Zoe Daniel.

It was a key refrain during last year's campaign and Donald Trump has followed through on his promise to pull out of the Paris Accord — with an intention to renegotiate.

"The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive," he once said, and this decision is all about his push for jobs under the "America First" mantra that appeals to his base.

Today, the United States President said he cares deeply about the environment but believes the Paris climate agreement was another unfair trade deal to the detriment of the US.

"In order to fulfil my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction under terms that are fair to the United States," Mr Trump said.

"We're getting out. And we will start to renegotiate and we'll see if there's a better deal. If we can, great. If we can't, that's fine," he said.

Senior White House Officials say that the desire to renegotiate is sincere and the President wants to figure out if there is a more "rational approach" to climate and energy policy.

The fact that the withdrawal is not clear cut is a reflection of the pressure the President's been under to both stay in, and pull out, of the deal.

Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner have urged him to stick to it, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who sees it as a grouping the US needs to stay in for leverage on global issues.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry called for a renegotiation of the deal rather than abandonment.

The head of Exxon Mobil, Darren Woods, sent a personal letter to the President urging him to "keep a seat at the negotiating table" to advocate for energy industries.

At last weekend's G7, world leaders made it clear that the US should stick to its commitment to the deal.

Even Pope Francis gave the President a copy of his 2015 call for greenhouse emission reductions.

Prominent Republican senators like Bob Corker and Lindsay Graham have said withdrawing sends the wrong message to the world.

"It would be taken as a statement that climate change is not a problem, is not real," Lindsay Graham has said.

"So that would be bad for the party, bad for the country."

Trump defies strong calls to remain in Paris agreement

At least 40 Senate Democrats and at least 13 House Republicans urged him to stay in.

It is something the President has been grappling with for some time, having vowed he would pull out of the agreement in his first 100 days.

Just yesterday he said "I'm hearing from a lot of people, both ways".

Tesla boss Elon Musk says he will follow through on his threat to end his affiliation with the administration because of Mr Trump decision's to withdraw from the agreement.

The leave lobby won, in line with the President's campaign promise.

Conservative groups, among them the National Mining Association, at least 22 Senate and 12 House Republicans, chief strategist Steve Bannon and EPA Chief Scott Pruitt were all part of that push.

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell was among the 22 senators who wrote to the President urging a "clean break" from the deal, although under the accord conditions the withdrawal will not be complete until around the end of this presidential term.

Critics say the decision will reduce America's international influence, ceding power to the likes of China, which is partnering with the EU to further reduce carbon emissions.

Andrew Light, former senior climate change adviser at the US State Department under the Obama administration, who is now with the climate think tank the World Resources Institute, says "it's going to undermine US credibility around the world".

"Climate is no longer this siloed issue on the side which is what it was for decades," he says.

"It's now at the core of how countries look at each other to determine whether or not you're a good player on the international stage or a bad player on the international stage, so this will really hurt us."

Under the Paris agreement the US agreed to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 per cent of 2005 levels by 2025.

US Energy Information Administration data shows that emissions had dropped 12 per cent by 2015.

An analysis by the Rhodium Group estimated that emissions would fall only 15 to 19 per cent below 2005 levels under Trump administration policies.

"I think what this admin is doing right now is going to put this issue front and centre back into Americans' concerns about what they think their next president should be doing, because this is going to be such a dramatic roll back from the rest of the world." Mr Light says.

Recent polling from Politico/Harvard showed more than 60 per cent of Americans support the deal.

Some 87 per cent of Democrats and 62 per cent of independents favoured staying in the accord, but 56 per cent or Republicans supported withdrawing.