U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday the United States could remain in the Paris climate change agreement under the right conditions.
He told the CBS news show “Face the Nation” that President Donald Trump “is open to finding those conditions where we can remain engaged with others on what we all agree is still a challenging issue.”
Tillerson, the top U.S. diplomat, said, “We are willing to work with partners in the Paris climate accord, if we can construct a set of terms that we believe is fair and balanced [for] the American people and recognizes our economy and our economic interest.”
But he said a problem remains in the difference in commitments between the United States and China.
“If you look at those targets in terms of the Paris climate accords, they were really out of balance for the world’s two largest economies,” he said.
Trump’s stance unchanged
The White House on Saturday said Trump had not changed his mind on withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris accord unless it gets “pro-America terms.”
The White House reiterated Trump’s environmental stance Saturday after The Wall Street Journal published a report saying that Trump administration officials at a warming summit in Montreal had said the U.S. would not pull out of the Paris Agreement and had, instead, offered to re-engage in the international deal to fight climate change.
The newspaper wrote that “multiple officials” at the global warming summit had corroborated the seeming about-face by the U.S. officials attending the summit.
The account said the U.S. officials in Montreal, “led by White House senior adviser Everett Eissenstat, broached revising U.S. climate-change goals, two participants said, signaling a compromise that would keep the U.S. at the table even if it meant weakening the international effort.”
The newspaper said “Multiple participants at the Montreal gathering said Mr. Eissenstat’s approach, though it is likely to entail a significant reduction in the U.S.’s ambition to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, fueled optimism among proponents of the Paris deal.”
After the summit, Miguel Arias Canete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy said “The U.S. 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.”
However, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted a different message shortly after Canete’s statement was released. “Our position on the Paris agreement has not changed.,” she said. “@POTUS has been clear, US withdrawing unless we get pro-America terms.”
Trump drew international criticism when he declared the U.S. would pull out of the Paris Agreement and seek a renegotiation.
The Paris Agreement is a U.N.-negotiated deal signed in 2015 by every nation except Syria and Nicaragua. A withdrawal by the United States is seen as a possible catalyst for withdrawals by other nations.
The agreement seeks a global response to curb carbon dioxide emissions.
The United States produces the world’s second-highest level of greenhouse gas emissions, next to China.