The White House is denying a report from several sources that the U.S. may reconsider its plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.
The confusion stems from remarks by Everett Eissenstat, a member of the National Economic Council, that were apparently misinterpreted by some EU officials. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was quoted in Politico as saying, “There has been no change in the United States’ position on the Paris agreement.”
The denial came after the Wall Street Journal reported that a White House senior official, Everett Eissenstat, had told people at a meeting of energy ministers in Montreal that the administration may revise or craft a new climate deal and emissions standards rather than pull out altogether, according to a top European energy official cited by the Journal.
As recently as early August, the White House signaled its intent to continue the process of withdrawal by delivering an official notice to the United Nations vis-à-vis the State Department.
President Donald Trump announced his intentions to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement in June during a speech in the Rose Garden – though under the terms of the original deal, the U.S. cannot fully withdraw until Nov. 4, 2020.
The president also indicated at that time that he would be open to re-entering the climate pact if he believed the United States could get out of it what Trump deemed a better deal.
The State Department announced last month that the U.S. would continue participating in international climate change negotiations, including talks aimed at implementing the Paris pact, “to protect U.S. interests and ensure all future policy options remain open to the administration.”
In fact, Eissenstat pretty much reiterated the contents of that State Department announcement at the Montreal meeting.
Another White House official said Saturday diplomats were mischaracterizing Eissenstat’s comments.
A second, non-U.S. attendee at this weekend’s meeting also said Eissenstat’s comments were being misconstrued. The attendee, who witnessed his comments in person, said Eissenstat simply reiterated the administration’s existing position, which is that the U.S. will continue to engage in climate talks with an eye toward reaching a better deal.
“He basically repeated exactly the State Department press release from August,” the person said, referring to a recent statement from the department outlining its intention to eventually withdraw, but continue participating in Paris discussions. “This is being misreported. Unhelpfully so I think.”
The news comes as National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn is set to meet with foreign officials in New York City on Monday to discuss climate and energy issues ahead of the United Nations general assembly.
It appears that the EU climate bureaucrats were engaged in some wishful thinking and heard what they wanted to hear from Eissenstat. Given how attached they are to the Paris accord, it’s not surprising.
We have yet to hear details of what exactly the Trump administration wants to “renegotiate” in the Paris deal. Certainly, the U.S. wants a level playing field with China, which is the number one country in the world for CO2 emissions. In order to get China’s cooperation on the agreement, negotiators gave them a far less onerous burden to cut emissions than the EU or U.S. This puts U.S. businesses at a competitive disadvantage, which I think Trump wants to rectify.
Also, we should like to see some acknowledgment of the spectacular progress we’ve made in cutting our own CO2 emissions. This should be reflected in more realistic targets for CO2 emissions reductions.
It hardly matters. No industrialized nation is likely to achieve the targeted reductions called for in the Paris accord. For that reason alone, the agreement should be scrapped.