President Donald Trump indicated Thursday that he would be willing to stay in the Paris climate agreement if the deal is renegotiated to include more favorable terms for the U.S.
Trump promised to tear up the deal during the presidential campaign, along with several other Obama-era environmental regulations. He is now switching his tune somewhat, telling reporters that he objects to the deal’s unfairness.
“It’s not a fair situation because they are paying virtually nothing and we are paying massive amounts of money,” he said, referring to criticisms that China, India and Russia were not ponying up enough money to help poorer countries battle climate change under the deal.
China, meanwhile, wants the White House to stick to Obama’s commitment, which aims to keep so-called man-made global warming below 2 degrees Celsius and commits the U.S. to cut emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025.
Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang, for one, said earlier this month that all parties privy to the talks should “fulfill their promises and earnestly take proactive steps to jointly push the enforcement of this agreement.”
The country’s lofty promises and posturing on climate issues comes in stark contrast to China’s poor environmental record. It is the largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, followed by the U.S.
There are few indications the country intends on reducing these levels, despite media and environmentalists arguing otherwise.
China promised to “peak” emissions by 2030, for example, even as its government hashes out plans to increase its coal capacity up to 20 percent — climate scientists consider coal production one of the primary drivers of global warming. The communist country will need to increase its energy production by magnitudes if it intends on lifting its sizable population out of poverty.
Still, Trump wants the deal renegotiated to force China into putting more flesh in the pot.
“I can say this, we want to be treated fairly,” Trump said when asked for a hint about whether it would stay in the pact. The president is expected to decide in May.
Trump’s comments come as elements of his administration continue to haggle about the deal’s fate.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and White House adviser Jared Kushner are in favor of staying wed to the promise, while EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and Trump’s strategic adviser, Steve Bannon, want the president to keep his campaign promise.
Tillerson indicated in March that he would support the deal if Trump can reduce some of the objectives hammered out during the agreement. He believes staying on board the contentious climate deal could give the president leverage on diplomatic talks.
Other Trump advisers have mirrored Tillerson’s position.
GOP North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, the president’s senior energy adviser, also told reporters last month that he was “impressed” with White House advisers who believe the agreement is not necessarily dead on arrival.
Members of Trump’s inner-circle met Thursday to hash out their differences on the matter. They didn’t come to a resolution, sources familiar with the discussions told reporters, but there’s consensus among the group that staying in the deal under the Obama-era commitments is a no-go.
“Everybody came away from the meeting feeling like there was agreement,” the source said.
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