White House Defers Decision on Remaining in Paris Climate Agreement

Amid speculation about whether President Donald Trump would withdraw the US from the pact, the White House announced that a decision would not be made until after a G7 summit at the end of the month. 

A crunch White House meeting to help decide whether or not the United States pulls out of the Paris climate accord was postponed Tuesday, as President Donald Trump's top aides weighed how to proceed.

The White House said Tuesday that Donald Trump will not decide on future US participation in the Paris climate accord before he returns from a trip to the Middle East and Europe later this month.

“The president has been meeting with his team for quite a while on this matter and he will not be making an announcement regarding that agreement until after he returns from the G7,” said press secretary Sean Spicer.

The meeting, in Sicily, will take place May 26–27.

The core of the Paris deal was an agreement between Chinese President Xi Jinping and then US president Barack Obama. Both men have this week pressed Trump to stay on board.

"It's important that big countries that are big emitters like the US and China ... lead the way," Obama told a conference on Tuesday in Milan, at one of his first public appearances since leaving office.

Xi meanwhile pledged to protect the accord during a phone call with French President-elect Emmanuel Macron.

Obama set targets to reduce emissions by 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

Another possible option for Trump, according to officials, is to remain within the agreement, but rework US emissions targets.

Sue Biniaz, a former State Department legal adviser who supports the accord, admitted Trump does not need to make a binary choice between leaving or staying.

"It is clear from the agreement that if you do change your target, you are encouraged to change it in a more ambitious direction," she said. "But it is equally clear that you are not legally prohibited from changing it in any direction that you choose."

Officials stressed that Trump has yet to make a decision either way.

RELATED: US Physicians Urge Action on Climate Change, Say Health Problems Are Rising