President Donald Trump's key advisers remain divided on the issue of climate change as they prepare to discuss whether the United States should remain a party to the Paris Climate Agreement.
His budget director, Mick Mulvaney, described plans to cut government spending on climate change as stopping a "waste" of taxpayer money.
One of the most fervent voices pushing the Trump administration to withdraw from the Paris agreement, however, has been the conservative Heritage Foundation.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer recently told reporters Trump would make a decision on the agreement ahead of the Group of 7 leaders' meeting in late May.
On one side are chief strategist Steve Bannon and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who want the United States to back away from the agreement.
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He said he knows the two powers have "serious differences", but they also have "common interests and responsibilities". He said the two sides would also discuss disagreements on Syria and how to end the country's six-year civil war.
Trump has already taken steps to roll back Obama-era restrictions on Carbon dioxide emissions, including signing an executive order to rescind a moratorium on coal mining on federal lands and direct agencies to remove obstacles to American energy production. Cloud Peak pitches the Paris agreement as a platform for the U.S.to advocate using carbon capture and other high-efficiency, low-emissions technology to generate electricity from coal.
The Obama administration joined the accords previous year without Senate approval, committing the U.S.to cut greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025.
Bannon and Pruitt are said to be strongly opposed to remaining in the agreement, while Kushner and Tillerson are said to be in favor of staying. It's a bad deal for America.
Justin Guay, climate program officer for the Packard Foundation, said countries like China and India would continue to shift toward clean energy even if the United States retreated, adding: "It is most important that the US stays at the table". A key argument is that the USA can stay in the agreement without satisfying its pledge or maintaining regulations created to help achieve the target, said one administration official. The country said it expects such funding to create roughly 13 million jobs, reduce emissions of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming and lessen the smog that has long plagued Beijing and other Chinese cities. Any diplomatic blowback from worldwide allies would be short-lived, argues Chris Horner, a senior legal fellow with the Energy and Environment Legal Institute.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, progress in the energy markets is already helping America reach environmental sustainability while maintaining competitiveness. "The coal companies and oil and gas companies that are flirting with the Paris agreement don't understand the existential threat that they're buying into".