EU of­fi­cial: U.S. may stay in Paris ac­cord

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Tracy Wilkin­son of Tri­bune News Ser­vice; and Ewa Krukowska and Jen­nifer Ja­cobs of Bloomberg News.

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.

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