Trump administration officials said Sunday that the president’s stance on the Paris climate agreement hasn’t changed: He’s open to re-engaging as long as he gets a better deal.
Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said the administration would reconsider its decision to withdraw from the accord “under the right conditions,” while National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said President Trump is willing to look at alternatives that fix the “flawed agreement.”
“He’s out of the Paris climate accord. What he said — the door is open,” Mr. McMaster said on “Fox News Sunday.” “If you look at what he said on the day that he announced withdrawing from the accord, he said at some point in the future, if there can be a deal that addresses these fundamental flaws, he’s open to it.”
Mr. Trump announced in June he would pull out of the 2015 agreement, which seeks to limit increases in global temperatures, saying it was “less about climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage.”
At the time Mr. Trump said that he would be willing to renegotiate the agreement or enter into a new accord that placed less of the economic burden on U.S. companies and workers.
The discussion was spurred by a Saturday Wall Street Journal report saying that a White House adviser suggested a compromise to revise the agreement in exchange for U.S. re-engagement at an international meeting in Montreal, which Mr. McMaster disputed as “false.”
“What the president has said is that we are withdrawing from the Paris accord. He left the door open to re-entering at some later time if there can be a better deal for the United States,” Mr. McMaster said on ABC’s “This Week.”
The White House insisted that there has been “no change on the U.S.’ position on the Paris agreement.
“As the president has made abundantly clear, the United States is withdrawing unless we can re-enter on terms that are more favorable to our country,” said White House spokesperson Lindsay Walters.
Environmentalists weren’t holding their breath. “The latest fire drill on the Paris agreement proves only one thing: Donald Trump can’t be trusted,” said Ben Schreiber, Friends of the Earth senior political strategist.
“Even if Trump does decide to stay in the Paris agreement, it will not be a victory for the planet because Trump’s actions have made it clear that he has no intention of doing our fair share on climate change,” said Mr. Schreiber.
Foes of the pact have argued that it represents a wealth transfer to other countries from the U.S., which already leads the world in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, thanks largely to the switch by many power plants from coal to natural gas.
Mr. Tillerson said the accord gave too much to “the second-largest economy in the world, China,” which has seen its carbon emissions climb.
“If you look at those targets in terms of the Paris climate accord, they were just really out of balance for the two largest economies,” Mr. Tillerson said on “Face the Nation” on CBS.
He said National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn is steering the administration’s position on the Paris accord.
“So I think the plan is for Director Cohn to consider other ways in which we can work with partners in the Paris climate accord,” Mr. Tillerson said. “We want to be productive. We want to be helpful. The U.S. actually has a tremendous track record on reducing our own greenhouse gas emissions.”
Ratified so far by 160 countries, the agreement sets a goal of keeping global temperature increases at well below 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels by 2100.
President Obama ratified the agreement in 2016 by executive action, instead of bringing the accord before the Senate, after it was negotiated at the 2015 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris.