The administration of US President Donald Trump has reaffirmed its decision to pull out of a global pact to fight climate change known as the Paris Climate Agreement, rejecting reports suggesting Washington was reversing course.
The White House announcement, which would deepen a rift with American allies, came following reports that the Trump administration was weighing a policy shift on the 2015 pact at a Montreal meeting with environment ministers from 30 countries on Saturday.
“There has been no change in the United States’ position on the Paris agreement,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters.
“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,” she said.
In June, Trump announced that he would pull the United States out of the 2015 global agreement to fight climate change, characterizing the decision as “a reassertion of American sovereignty.”
“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” Trump said then.
The move, which fulfills a campaign promise made just over a year ago, has drawn rebuke from Democrats at home and world leaders who had pressed Trump not to abandon the 197-nation accord.
At the Montreal summit on Saturday, the United States “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,” according to the European Union’s top climate official Miguel Arias Canete said.
Canete said there would be another meeting with American representatives on the sidelines of next week’s UN General Assembly “to assess what is the real US position,” noting “it’s a message which is quite different to the one we heard from President Trump in the past.”
Trump considers climate change a hoax
Trump had vowed during the election campaign to “cancel” the Paris agreement within 100 days of becoming president on January 20 in order to bolster the US oil and coal giants, which bankrolled his campaign.
Trump has labeled climate change a hoax, defying widening international support for the Paris agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions. He has argued that the concept of global warming has been “created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”
Environmental groups have long argued against spending billions of dollars to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants when the same funds could help expedite the transition to wind and solar power.
The Paris agreement was reached on November 4, 2016 and has been signed by 197 countries. 135 of them have now formally ratified the agreement. They represent more than 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The Paris agreement seeks to avert climate change by limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial temperatures by 2050. It also sets out a goal of reaching a limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius, if possible.
The adopted text acknowledges that the risks of climate change are much more serious than previously thought. The deal is to take effect in 2020.
‘Trump committed to destroying planet’
Leading American political analyst and philosopher Noam Chomsky has also said that the Trump administration is profoundly endangering the earth.
In a recent interview with Democracy Now!, Chomsky repeated the remarks he made in November last year about Trump’s Republican Party, calling it the most “dangerous organization in human history.”
Chomsky said the Trump administration had shown a total disregard for the future of the earth and is determined to dismantle the system in place to tackle climate change.
He said the administration is “systematically” undermining governmental institutions, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, for the sake of “profits and power.”
In a previous interview with Democracy Now!, Chomsky had called the possibility of a nuclear war and global warming the greatest threats to mankind’s existence.