US to join climate talks despite planned withdrawal from Paris accord

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - The White House formally notified the United Nations on Friday (Aug 4) that it intends to abandon the Paris agreement on climate change, but remains open to "re-engaging" on the accord.

The United States will participate in UN climate negotiations later this year, despite its planned withdrawal, according to the administration's statement of intent.

The letter has no legal weight and does not set in motion the United States' departure from the pact of nearly 200 nations to curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. Rather, it is a political document that affirms President Donald Trump's declaration in June that the Paris agreement is a bad deal for the United States.

"As the President indicated in his June 1 announcement and subsequently, he is open to re-engaging in the Paris Agreement if the US can identify terms that are more favorable to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, and its taxpayers," the State Department statement said.

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When Trump revealed his decision to withdraw from the accord, he suggested the US might be willing to stay if he could "make a deal that's fair".

President Emmanuel Macron of France, after inviting Trump to Paris, said he believed he had convinced the US President to stay in the climate accord.

"We talked in detail about what could enable him to come back into the Paris accords," Macron told reporters.

According to the White House announcement, the United States will continue to participate in UN climate discussions including one in Bonn, Germany, in November aimed at fleshing out the Paris agreement.

Continued American presence at such talks is to "protect US interests and ensure all future policy options remain open to the administration," the statement says.

The announcement adds that the United States "supports a balanced approach to climate policy that lowers emissions while promoting economic growth an ensuring energy security."

In language that mirrors wording the White House team was able to insert in Group of 20 discussions, it calls for working with other nations to "help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently."

Under terms of the Paris accord, the US cannot formally begin the process of withdrawal until Nov 4, 2019.