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Trump preparing to pull U.S. from Paris climate accord, amid last-minute lobbying

President Trump hasn’t made a final decision on whether the U.S. will quit the Paris Accord on climate change, but White House officials indicated Wednesday that he was headed in that direction, setting off a worldwide reaction.

A flurry of leaks, counter-leaks and public statements thrust back into the spotlight a decision that has been agonized and untidy even by the standards of a White House known for internal drama.

Wednesday morning, when officials told some news organizations that Trump had settled on pulling out of the climate agreement, seemingly everyone in the world jumped in to try to influence or spin his decision, from the Chinese government to the coal industry to the state of California.

That offered a foretaste of the reaction Trump likely will receive if he does follow through on his vow to pull the United States out of the 195-nation pact, which President Obama hailed in 2015 as one of his major achievements.

Other nations have swiftly moved to take over the leadership role on climate that the United States would be abandoning. Some states have followed suit, promising they would break with Washington to work with other countries in their efforts to contain global warming.

During Trump's recent overseas trip, U.S. allies warned him that America's broader diplomatic influence would be undercut if the administration gave up its seat at the climate negotiating table.

All the public lobbying on Wednesday moved Trump to weigh in himself. He knocked down reports that he had decided to withdraw with a tweet announcing that he was still making up his mind.

The mixed messages coming out of the White House left open the possibility that the original news reports reflected the views of officials who were aiming to steer the final outcome by presenting withdrawal as a done deal.

Trump's schedule for the day includes meetings with advisors hoping to talk him into staying in the agreement, at least to some extent.

If Trump does withdraw the U.S. fully from the Paris pact, scientists warn it will be a tremendous setback to the worldwide effort to contain temperatures from rising an average of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The consequences for the United States would extend beyond global warming. 

“It will be a very big deal all over the world,” said Todd Stern, the lead U.S. climate negotiator during the Obama administration. “There will be consequential blowback with respect to our diplomatic position across the board.”

UPDATES

9:27 a.m.: This post was updated throughout with staff reporting and additional details.

6:23 a.m.: This post was updated with Trump's tweet.

6:04 a.m.: This post was updated throughout with additional details.

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