Trump may soften on Paris ac­cord

Re­ports sug­gest he may ne­go­ti­ate rather than with­draw from the cli­mate ac­cord.

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY TRACY WILKIN­SON tracy.wilkin­son@la­ Twit­ter: @Tra­cyKWilkin­son Staff writer Noah Bier­man con­trib­uted to this re­port.

A Euro­pean of­fi­cial sug­gests the pres­i­dent is re­con­sid­er­ing with­drawal from cli­mate deal.

WASHINGTON — A Euro­pean of­fi­cial said Satur­day that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has soft­ened its op­po­si­tion to the land­mark Paris cli­mate ac­cord and may not com­pletely with­draw af­ter all.

If true, this would mark an­other reversal of one of Pres­i­dent Trump’s key cam­paign prom­ises, one of the most con­tro­ver­sial.

But the White House quickly sought to re­but the story, which was first re­ported by the Wall Street Jour­nal.

“There has been no change in the United States’ po­si­tion on the Paris agree­ment,” said Lind­say Wal­ters, a pres­i­den­tial spokes­woman. “As the pres­i­dent has made abun­dantly clear, the United States is with­draw­ing un­less we can reen­ter on terms that are more fa­vor­able to our coun­try.”

Later, White House spokes­woman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders wrote on Twit­ter, “Our po­si­tion on the Paris agree­ment has not changed. @POTUS has been clear, US with­draw­ing un­less we get pro-Amer­ica terms.”

At a min­is­te­rial sum­mit of 30 coun­tries in Mon­treal, where the United States par­tic­i­pated as an ob­server, the Euro­pean Union’s top cli­mate of­fi­cial said the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion had backed away from its dec­la­ra­tion in June that it was aban­don­ing the his­toric 2015 agree­ment.

The U.S. “stated that they will not rene­go­ti­ate the Paris ac­cord, but they will try to re­view the terms on which they could be en­gaged un­der this agree­ment,” Miguel Arias Canete said, ac­cord­ing to wire re­ports.

Arias said he and other of­fi­cials in­volved with the Paris agree­ment would meet on the mar­gins of this week’s United Nations Gen­eral Assem­bly in New York to de­ter­mine what the “real U.S. po­si­tion” was.

But, he added, “it’s a mes­sage which is quite dif­fer­ent to the one we heard from Pres­i­dent Trump in the past.”

It was not im­me­di­ately clear how much, if any­thing, had changed in the U.S. po­si­tion.

Un­der the agree­ment’s terms, Trump’s de­ci­sion to with­draw can­not fully take ef­fect for al­most four years. In the in­terim, Trump has said he hopes to rene­go­ti­ate an ac­cord “on terms that are fair to the United States.”

Some ex­perts have sug­gested that left Trump with a bit of wig­gle room, where he could de­clare he had with­drawn, only to rene­go­ti­ate terms that he would por­tray as be­ing more fa­vor­able to the U.S.

The meet­ing in Mon­treal stood out for the lack of a high-level U.S. pres­ence. Other coun­tries as­serted their com­mit­ments to fight­ing global warm­ing.

“The Paris agree­ment should not be rene­go­ti­ated,” said Xie Zhen­hua, China’s spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive for cli­mate change af­fairs.

Washington has in­di­cated it will con­tinue to par­tic­i­pate in th­ese meet­ings, al­beit at a lower level.

“We con­tinue to en­gage them,” Canada’s en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter Cather­ine McKenna said. “We con­tinue to make the case that like the United States, we want to cre­ate jobs, we want to cre­ate eco­nomic growth.”

When Trump an­nounced his de­ci­sion to with­draw from the ac­cord, he was adamant that the U.S. would ig­nore vol­un­tary goals on lim­it­ing green­house-gas emis­sions and other el­e­ments be­lieved to con­trib­ute to global warm­ing.

Trump ar­gued the agree­ment was bad for U.S. busi­nesses and that it made Washington pay too much for pol­lu­tion caused by other coun­tries.

Global warm­ing has re­newed po­lit­i­cal cur­rency in the wake of Hur­ri­cane Har­vey, which caused epic floods in Hous­ton, and Hur­ri­cane Irma, which dev­as­tated parts of the Caribbean and left mil­lions of peo­ple in Florida with­out elec­tric­ity. Sci­en­tists say warmer wa­ters may have in­ten­si­fied the mon­ster storms’ force.

Two more storms, Jose and Maria, are churn­ing off the East Coast.

En­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists said they saw no sign that the storms would change Trump’s claims that cli­mate change is a hoax.

“For any­one who had any hope that two his­tor­i­cally dev­as­tat­ing storms strik­ing our na­tion would wake up the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to the re­al­ity of the cli­mate cri­sis, think again,” the Sierra Club said in a state­ment Satur­day, not­ing that the White House had quickly de­nied claims out of Mon­treal.

Trump was crit­i­cized in en­vi­ron­men­tal cir­cles and Euro­pean cap­i­tals when he an­nounced the U.S. with­drawal from the Paris ac­cord, a hard-fought agree­ment that brought to­gether al­most ev­ery coun­try in the world to con­front cli­mate change.

It was a sig­na­ture achieve­ment of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and rare diplo­matic agree­ment for the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies and the two largest pro­duc­ers of car­bon-gas emis­sions.

Other coun­tries, and many U.S. states, in­clud­ing Cal­i­for­nia, said they would forge ahead with meet­ing the goals of the cli­mate agree­ment de­spite Trump’s plan to with­draw.

In June, Trump ar­gued that the deal would “un­der­mine our econ­omy, ham­string our work­ers, weaken our sovereignty ... and put us at a per­ma­nent dis­ad­van­tage to the other coun­tries of the world,” he said. “It is time to exit the Paris ac­cord.”

Alive Chiche AFP/Getty Images

GLOBAL en­vi­ron­men­tal min­is­ters met in Mon­treal to dis­cuss cli­mate change. The U.S. was present, but only as an ob­server.

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