U.S. President Donald Trump has decided to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, Axios news outlet reported on Wednesday, citing two unidentified sources with direct knowledge of the decision.
CNN and Fox News also cited unidentified sources confirming the pullout.
The accord, forged by nearly 200 countries in 2015, seeks to limit global warming by cutting emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases from burning fossil fuels. Under the pact, the United States committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emission by 26 to 28 percent, from 2005 levels, by 2025.
Trump had called global warming a “hoax” during his election campaign and vowed to "cancel" the Paris deal within 100 days of becoming president, as part of an effort to bolster U.S. oil and coal industries.
At the G-7 summit last week, Trump refused to join the six other countries to endorse the landmark climate change accord, saying he needed more time to decide. "I will make my final decision on the Paris accord next week!" Trump said in a Twitter post on Saturday.
Axios said details on how to withdrawal from the accord are being worked out by a team that includes EPA administrator Scott Pruitt. They are now deciding whether to initiate a three-year formal withdrawal or to simply leave the U.N. treaty that the accord is based on, which would be faster, but more extreme, according to Axios.
The decision comes after months of internal debate within the Trump administration. Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, had pressed Trump to stick with his campaign promise and leave the deal. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Ivanka Trump, the President’s top aide and daughter, had advised against leaving the deal, CNN citing sources said.
But a letter from 22 Republican senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling for an exit had reinforced Trump's instincts to withdraw from the climate accord, Axios reported.
Trump’s decision would be a significant foreign policy breakup with nearly every other nation on earth, as the only other two countries that aren't supporting the deal are Nicaragua and Syria. Also, it indicated a major reversal of environmental policies under former President Barack Obama, who helped broker the accord.
Canada, China and India have said they will honor their commitments to the pact even if the United States withdraws.
The European Union said on Wednesday a withdrawal by the U.S. from the Paris climate accord would be disappointing, but it is ready to take global leadership on this issue.
"If they decide to pull out it would be disappointing but I really do not think this would change the course of mankind," European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said.
"There is a much stronger expectation from our partners across the world from Africa, Asia and China that Europe should assume leadership in this effort and we are ready to do that," Sefcovic added.
Although the Paris agreement, forced at the COP21 climate summit, was criticized for falling short of the urgent and drastic action needed to prevent catastrophic global warming, it was nevertheless heralded as a historic step in the global effort to combat climate change.