Trump says US could ‘conceivably’ return to Paris climate deal

The US president has at times seemed torn between advisers like his daughter Ivanka, who advocate for policies that mitigate the effects of climate change, and aides who believe international accords hold America back.

world Updated: Jan 11, 2018 23:24 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Donald Trump,Paris climate deal,United States
US President Donald Trump(Reuters)

President Donald Trump has said the United States could “conceivably” return to the Paris climate deal, an international accord that he had earlier called “unfair” and castigated as being designed to benefit developing countries such as India and China.

“We could conceivably go back in ... I feel very strongly about the environment,” Trump said, during a joint news conference at the White House with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Wednesday.

“The Paris agreement as drawn and as we signed is very unfair to the United States... It put great penalties on us … it hurt out businesses,” he said.

“According to some estimates we would have had to close businesses to qualify by 2025,” Trump said, referring to the self-determined emission mitigation goal picked by the Obama administration.

Evidently, Trump still believes the agreement is unfair but spared India the invectives this time, and focussed instead on China and Russia, saying they were being held to easier standards as far as emission mitigation targets were concerned.

Trump announced in June 2017 he was pulling the United States out of the Paris accord. The break will be formally completed in 2020.

But Trump, who once called climate change a hoax played by the Chinese, has kept the door open, calling himself a supporter of clean air and water. “We are very strong on the environment,” he said on Wednesday, adding that his environment protection agency leaders were “very, very powerful in the sense that they want to have clean water, clean air, but we also want (our) businesses that can compete and the Paris accord would really have take away our competitive edge.”

This, of course, depends on whether or not Trump changes his mind. In June, he had said the US could come back in a renegotiated deal, which all signatory countries — including India — have ruled out for now.

But that has not stopped the administration from floating time and again the possibility of the United States to return to the fold. In the meantime, though, Trump has rolled back some of the emission-reducing measures introduced by his predecessor Barack Obama.

In 2017, while announcing that he would pull the US out of the deal, Trump had lashed out at India and China by citing their deal under the deal as the reason why he thought it was unfair

“India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries,” Trump had said in an erroneous take on India’s position.

“China will be allowed to build hundreds of additional coal plants. So we can’t build the plants, but they can, according to this agreement. India will be allowed to double its coal production by 2020. Think of it: India can double their coal production. We’re supposed to get rid of ours,” he had said.

India, despite expecting that the US would pull out of the deal, was somewhat taken aback at being singled out.

First Published: Jan 11, 2018 10:55 IST