US presses ahead with Paris pact exit; stays in UN talks

WASHINGTON • The White House formally notified the United Nations on Friday 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, including one in Bonn, Germany, in November aimed at fleshing out the Paris Agreement 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 US' 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 US.

"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 favourable to the US, its businesses, its workers, its people and its taxpayers," the State Department statement said.

Continued American presence at such talks is to "protect US interests and ensure all future policy options remain open to the administration", the statement said, adding that the US "supports a balanced approach to climate policy that lowers emissions while promoting economic growth and ensuring energy security".

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

Mr Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said Mr Guterres welcomed any re-engagement by the Trump administration, adding: "It is crucial that the US remains a leader on climate and sustainable development. Climate change is impacting now."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 06, 2017, with the headline 'US presses ahead with Paris pact exit; stays in UN talks'. Print Edition | Subscribe