By next month, President Donald Trump will decide the future of the Paris Agreement, the historic climate deal signed by all but two countries. He pledged during his campaign to “cancel” the accord, which commits the United States to cutting planet-warming emissions, and sources told HuffPost he is leaning toward pulling out.
But a majority of the country wants the U.S. to remain in the pact, according to HuffPost/YouGov poll taken this week.
Sixty-one percent of Americans said the country should stay in the agreement, while just 17 percent supported withdrawing. Another 21 percent said they were unsure.
The ratio reflects the overwhelming support the Paris Agreement has among big players trying to influence the president’s decision. Within the administration, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and familial White House advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump support keeping the U.S. in the deal. Corporate giants, including Walmart, General Mills and DuPont, as well as coal companies and oil majors BP, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell, urged Trump to support the accord. Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups, naturally, are on that list, too.
The vocal minority that opposes the deal includes Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, hard-line chief strategist Steve Bannon and a bevy of House Republicans. “The majority of members of the House Republicans would not cry if we left the Paris accords. I think it would be a large majority of our conference,” Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), the chairman of the environment subcommittee under the Energy and Commerce Committee, told Axios.
Quitting the Paris Agreement could have major economic consequences. The United Nations warned that the U.S. would lose jobs in the rapidly-growing clean energy industry ― estimated to be worth $6 trillion by 2030 ― to Europe, India and China. Countries that tax emissions could put a tariff on American-made imports. And even if Trump pulls out of the pact, big companies expect future U.S. leadership to regulate carbon at some point, and procrastinating the inevitable by ditching the deal only sows the sort of instability to which investors are generally averse.
“Abandoning the agreement, which the U.S. took a lead role in brokering, would brand the nation as a 'rogue country' and a 'climate pariah.'”
The diplomatic effects could be worse. Only Nicaragua and war-ravaged Syria are not included in the accord. Abandoning the agreement, which the U.S. took a lead role in brokering, would brand the nation as a “rogue country” and a “climate pariah,” diplomats have said. Without a seat at the table, the U.S. would lose leverage over policy action on global warming. Plus, the U.S. risks ceding global influence to rival superpower China, which has vowed to support poorer countries’ efforts to adapt to climate change.
Refusing to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions places a huge bet on a tiny and frequently-debunked segment of researchers and policymakers who argue that climate change may not be closely linked to human activity or that its effects won’t be as bad as current forecasts predict.
That’s a risk the majority of Americans don’t want to take. Fifty-nine percent said the climate is changing as a result of humans’ burning fossil fuels, industrial farming and deforestation, the HuffPost/YouGov survey found. That compares to 21 percent who said climate change is not linked to human activity, and just 6 percent who argued the climate hasn’t changed at all.
Just over half the country ― 51 percent ― said the U.S. is not taking a leadership role in addressing climate change, and 58 percent said it should. For context, 20 percent said the U.S. is leading the charge, and 22 percent said it ought to take a backseat role. Another 29 percent weren’t sure where the country stood, and 20 percent remained undecided on what kind of role the U.S. should play.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted May 15-17 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.
Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.