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UN Climate Talks Kick Off as US Mulls Withdrawal from Paris Deal | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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US President Donald Trump. (AFP)

Global diplomats will meet in Bonn, Germany on Monday to hold United Nations Climate talks as US officials are set to meet in Washington on Tuesday to address whether to pull out of the Paris global emissions-cutting deal.

The United States said it will continue attending UN climate change meetings, even as it considers pulling out of the deal.

The UN talks will hammer out details for how countries should implement the 2015 Paris climate accord. Diplomats will discuss how to report the actions their countries are taking to combat global warming and fund the UN climate agency.

The negotiations due to last until May 18 will also prepare for the annual climate change summit in November.

President Donald Trump had previously said he would “cancel” the Paris deal or find a way to back away from targets set by the Obama administration.

Though Trump’s inclination has been to leave the agreement, he’s allowed his daughter, White House adviser Ivanka Trump, to set up an extensive review process, a senior administration official said. The goal is to ensure Trump receives information from both government experts and the private sector before a making a decision.

To that end, Ivanka Trump will hold a separate meeting Tuesday with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, the official said. Pruitt is a chief proponent of leaving the deal and has questioned the science that says humans are contributing to global warming.

And the decision to participate in next week’s UN climate talks should not be construed as a sign that Trump has decided to stay in the Paris pact, a State Department official added. To the contrary, the US will be sending a “much smaller” delegation than it has in years past, the official said.

Under the Paris deal, brokered by former President Barack Obama and world leaders in 2015, nations agreed to non-binding pledges to cap or reduce emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. The pact helped solidify a global consensus about addressing climate change that environmental groups worry may be undermined if the world’s largest economy withdraws.

Trump, as a candidate, threatened to “cancel” the deal, but since taking office has said he’s studying it and plans a final decision soon. US officials say the timeline is being driven by the Group of 7 summit, which Trump will attend late this month in Italy. Trump needs to announce a decision before that summit so that leaders can determine whether and how to address climate change issues during the G-7.

The State Department official said that the US was focused on ensuring that no decisions are made in Bonn “that would prejudice our future policy,” undermine competitiveness for American businesses or restrict US economic growth.

Meanwhile, investors with more than $15 trillion of assets under management urged governments led by the United States to implement the Paris deal.

“As long-term institutional investors, we believe that the mitigation of climate change is essential for the safeguarding of our investments,” according to the letter signed by 214 institutional investors and published on Monday.

“We urge all nations to stand by their commitments to the Agreement,” it said. Signatories of the letter included the California Public Employees Retirement System and other pension funds from Sweden to Australia.

The letter was addressed to governments of the Group of Seven, before a summit in Italy on May 25-26, and to leaders of the Group of 20 who will meet in Germany in July.

The European Union has been scrambling to persuade Trump, who wants to bolster the US coal industry, to stick with the accord. His advisers have warned of legal problem if Washington stays but waters down its climate commitments.

Stephanie Pfeifer, CEO of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change in Europe, which also coordinated the letter, said nations should shift to a low-carbon economy “regardless of what the US administration does”.