EU official: U.S. may stay in Paris accord
WASHINGTON — A European Union official said Saturday that President Donald Trump’s administration has softened its stance on the Paris climate agreement and may not completely withdraw from it after all.
The White House quickly rebutted the report.
“There has been no change in the United States’ position on the Paris agreement,” said Lindsay Walters, a White House spokesman. “As the president has made abundantly clear, the United States is withdrawing unless we can re-enter on terms that are more favorable to our country.”
At a ministerial summit in Montreal, where the United States was an observer,
the European Union’s top climate official said the Trump administration had backed away from its announcement in June that it was abandoning the 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.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said on Twitter, “Our position on the Paris agreement has not changed. @POTUS has been clear, US withdrawing unless we get pro-America terms.”
Announcing plans to quit the pact, Trump said in June that the agreement favored other countries at the expense of U.S. workers and amounted to a “massive redistribution” of U.S. wealth.
“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers,” Trump said at the time.
“We’re getting out,” he added, “but we will start to negotiate and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. If we can, that’s great. If we can’t, that’s fine.” Trump’s administration last month began the formal process of exiting from the climate accord, drawing fire from allies and foes alike.
On Saturday, EU climate commissioner Canete made his comments about a change of stance after meeting with Everett Eissenstat, deputy director of the National Economic Council and deputy assistant to the president for international economic affairs.
“Now we don’t see the messages that they are withdrawing from the Paris agreement radically,” Canete said, adding that the countries at Saturday’s meeting agreed not to seek a renegotiation of the Paris deal.
Finalized in December 2015 after years of negotiations, the climate pact united more than 190 nations in a pledge to work toward limiting fossil-fuel emissions.
Envoys will meet again in November to discuss how to implement the agreement. The message from the U.S. at Saturday’s gathering “at least pointed in the direction that they will participate constructively” in the talks, Canete said.
“They are willing to re-engage under the Paris agreement but they want to check some of the terms under which they agreed to participate previously,” he said. “We assume that means that the U.S. will revisit at some time the targets put forward by the previous administration.”
Canete is to meet with U.S. National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn on Monday in New York. “We expect the American administration will elaborate further on the message that they gave today in Montreal at a political level,” Canete said.
Global warming is an issue with renewed political currency after Hurricane Harvey created epic flooding in Houston and the Gulf Coast, and Hurricane Irma devastated parts of the Caribbean and Florida. Scientists say warmer waters likely had a role in intensifying the storms.