The United States’ stance on the international Paris climate accord was thrown into confusion on Saturday, after a top European Union official said the Trump administration would not withdraw from the agreement — a claim the White House has since denied.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday afternoon that the Trump administration’s shift on the issue had occurred during a meeting in Montreal of government officials from more than 30 countries, including Canada, China, and the EU.
“The US has 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,” European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete told The Journal.
But the White House quickly rebuffed the notion that Trump’s views on the issue have changed.
“There has been no change in the United States’ position on the Paris agreement. As the President has made abundantly clear, the United States is withdrawing unless we can re-enter on terms more favourable to our country,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Business Insider in a statement.
Trump announced on June 1 that he would pull the US out of the landmark agreement, as he had promised during his presidential campaign. The decision, while lauded by his base, received international condemnation.
The Paris Agreement was signed by 195 nations in December 2015, and set a global goal to keep the planet from warming by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, a threshold that scientists say could keep the planet from launching into a tailspin of irreversible consequences like unpredictable superstorms and crippling heat waves.
During his announcement that the US would withdraw from the deal, however, Trump appeared to leave the door open to future talks.
“We’re getting out, but we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair,” Trump said. “If we can, that’s great. And if we can’t, that’s fine.”
Rebecca Harrington contributed to this report.
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