Paris climate commitment 'crippling' to US growth: White House

Trump's economic advisor Gary Cohn (above) said the levels that were agreed to by the prior administration would be highly crippling to the US economic growth.
Trump's economic advisor Gary Cohn (above) said the levels that were agreed to by the prior administration would be highly crippling to the US economic growth.PHOTO: AFP

TAORMINA, ITALY (AFP) - US compliance with its commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change would be "crippling" to growth, the White House said Friday (May 26).

During his election campaign, avowed climate sceptic Donald Trump promised to exit the 2015 UN pact on limiting global warming.

But Trump has now said he will make a decision after returning to Washington following the G7 summit in Sicily which starts Friday, at the end of his international tour.

"We know that the levels that were agreed to by the prior administration would be highly crippling to the US economic growth," Trump's economic advisor Gary Cohn said.

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"The president has told you that he's going to ultimately make a decision on Paris and climate when he gets back. He's interested to hear what the G7 leaders have to say about climate," said Cohn, speaking aboard the presidential Air Force One.

"It will be a fairly robust discussion on that. We know that because we had it today with the French president, we had it with the Belgians, we had it with all the bilaterals we've had," he added.

Trump "wants to do the right thing for the environment. He cares about the environment. But he also cares very much about creating jobs for American workers," said the advisor to a Republican president who has declared the end to a "war on coal".

Under President Barack Obama, the US, with world's second biggest carbon emitter, pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025.

A solution discussed in Washington could be to remain in the Paris Agreement but launch a re-examination of US objectives.

That would allow it to keep a seat at the negotiating table while sending a signal domestically of a form of break with the previous Democratic administration.

US withdrawal from the 196-nation Paris Agreement would be a real blow to "climate diplomacy" which, less than 18 months ago, celebrated the historic pact made possible by a hard-fought agreement negotiated between Washington and Beijing.