Trump administration sends mixed messages on keeping Paris agreement


President Donald Trump’s administration sent mixed signals
regarding a new report that the US may stay in the Paris climate

The Wall Street Journal
on Saturday that at a meeting in Montreal, US
officials broached the idea of a compromise that could keep the
country in the global agreement if the country’s commitment to
reducing greenhouse gas emissions was lowered.

In response to the report, top administration officials have
leaned heavily on the ambiguity in Trump’s
announcement on Paris
in June, emphasizing that the president
said he would be open to renegotiating the deal.

The White House pushed back on the framing of the report as an
official shift in the administration’s policy.

“There has been no change in the United States’ position on the
Paris agreement. As the President has made abundantly clear, the
United States is withdrawing unless we can re-enter on terms more
favorable to our country,” White House press secretary Sarah
Huckabee Sanders told Business Insider in a statement on

Sanders also wrote in a tweet that the administration had always
said there was a possibility the US could stay in the agreement,
195 nations signed in 2015
to keep the planet from warming by
what scientists believe is a key threshold.

Appearing on “Fox & Friends” on Sunday, Trump counselor
Kellyanne Conway dismissed the sourcing of the report, saying
“somebody representing the EU made some noises,” and that the
Trump “hasn’t changed at all” on Paris.

“Go back and look at all of his reasons for withdrawing in the
first place. None of that has changed as far as we can see,”
Conway said.

The ‘president’s ears are open’

But other advisers seemed to send more mixed messages.

Speaking to “Fox News Sunday,” National Security Adviser H.R.
McMaster said Saturday’s piece was a “false report,” but said the
“president’s ears are open” if other nations want to renegotiate
the deal.

And in an interview on “This Week,” McMaster argued that the
agreement was in fact not strong enough for Trump, saying the
Paris pact “gave the biggest polluters, the biggest carbon
emitters, a free ride,” while simultaneously arguing the accord
didn’t carve out any space for “clean fossil fuels.”

But he refused to say the US will definitively leave the
agreement, emphasizing that in his speech announcing his
departure from the deal, Trump “left the door open to reentering
at some later time if there can be a better deal for the United

“I would just go back to what the president said,” McMaster said.
“He’s open to any discussions that will help us improve the
environment, that will help us ensure energy security, and will
advance our prosperity and the prosperity of American workers and
American businesses.”

“So is is possible the United States would stay in if you can get
a new agreement?” host George Stephanopoulos asked.

“If there’s an agreement that benefits the American people,
certainly,” McMaster said.

rex tillerson
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivers a speech at the World
Petroleum Congress in Istanbul, Turkey on July 9,


Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also attempted to thread the
needle, saying Trump would not entirely rule out staying in the

In an interview on “Face The Nation,” Tillerson emphasized that
National Economic Council director Gary Cohn was developing ways
for the US to “be helpful” outside of the agreement, though he
did not specify any ways the US would commit to reducing carbon
emissions. Trump specifically took issue with the US goal in the
agreement of
reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26% to 28% by 2025

“I think the plan is for director Cohn to consider other ways in
which we can work with partners in the Paris climate accord,”
Tillerson said.

But Tillerson also added that “under the right conditions” the US
could stay in the accord.

“The president said he’s open to finding those conditions where
we can remain engaged with others on what we all agree is still a
challenging issue,” Tillerson said.

When he announced the US departure in June, Trump’s request to
renegotiate the Paris climate accord was ridiculed and dismissed
by other world leaders.

Other countries and world leaders
roundly rejected
Trump’s request to renegotiate the deal,
which took years to finalize.

Since then, the president has teased that the US could remain in
the agreement. During a visit to Paris earlier this year, Trump
told reporters, “Something could happen with respect to the Paris
accords; let’s see what happens.”

Though the US
last month officially sent a letter
to the United Nations
officially announcing it would withdraw from Paris, the State
Department said the US
would continue to participate
in climate change meetings
during the years-long withdrawal process.

Because of the way the Paris agreement was designed, it will take
years for the US to fully exit it. According to its rules,

the earliest Trump could officially exit
the pact would be
November 4, 2020 — the day after the next presidential election.

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