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White House official: Trump is willing to hear out Europeans on the Paris climate deal

  • President Donald Trump will listen to European leaders as he decides his policy on the Paris climate deal, Gary Cohn says
  • Trump is meeting Friday with G-7 leaders in Italy
  • Key Republican senators have urged Trump to withdraw from the deal, while some big American businesses are pushing him to stay in it
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President Donald Trump and European Council President Donald Tusk attend the G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017.
Alessandro Bianchi | Reuters
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President Donald Trump and European Council President Donald Tusk attend the G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017.

World leaders have a chance Friday to lobby for Donald Trump's support on the Paris Agreement on climate, and the president may be willing to listen.

"I think he's leaning to understanding the European position," chief economic advisor Gary Cohn told a pool reporter during Trump's first trip overseas as president. "Look as you know from the U.S., there's very strong views on both sides. Both sides are running ads."

"So he knows that in the U.S., there's very strong opinions on both sides, but he also knows that Paris has important meaning to many of the European leaders. And he wants to clearly hear what the European leaders have to say."

Trump meets Friday with the leaders of the G-7 economic powers in Italy, and some of those officials are expected to try to convince the U.S. to keep to its word on the landmark global agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions, which was reached during the Obama administration. The United States is world's second-biggest greenhouse gas polluter, after China.

Powerful voices push Trump in both directions

As a candidate, Trump said he would renegotiate the agreement or even pull out of it. Since taking office, Trump has taken steps to roll back regulations on emissions, arguing that they're bad for American energy companies.

But some top Trump administration officials and major business leaders have urged him to uphold the deal. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was formerly CEO of Exxon Mobil, has publicly backed the Paris Agreement.

General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt and executives from energy companies like Exxon and Chevron have also pushed the U.S. to stay in the agreement.

But Trump has faced some political pressure from lawmakers on the other side. A group of 22 Republican senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, pushed Trump in a Thursday letter to withdraw from the agreement, according to Axios.

The Paris Agreement is the first that "brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so," according to the United Nations. "As such, it charts a new course in the global climate effort."