Trump may be looking for "right conditions" to stay in Paris Accord

September 18, 2017, 10:00am

President Trump may be backtracking on the Paris Climate Accord. Or maybe not. Or maybe he never committed to anything in the first place.

Back in June, Trump vowed to withdraw the U.S. from the landmark climate agreement, a 196-country agreement inked in late 2015 to limit greenhouse gas emissions and fund renewable energy, saying he’d only re-enter the deal if he could negotiate more favorable terms for America.

But The Wall Street Journal, citing an unnamed international climate official, reported that the Trump administration told officials at a Sept. 16 meeting organized by the EU, China, and Canada to discuss the accord, that the U.S. would stay in the pact, despite the tough talk from Trump in June.

That prompted the Trump administration to clarify the U.S.’ position ahead of the United Nations General Assembly this week in New York.

“That’s a false report,” national security adviser H.R. McMaster told “Fox News Sunday.” “The president decided to pull out of the Paris Accord because it’s a bad deal for the American people and it’s a bad deal for the environment.”

The White House echoed McMaster.

“There has been no change in the U.S.’ position on the Paris agreement,” a White House spokesperson said in a statement Saturday. “The U.S. is withdrawing unless we can re-enter on terms that are more favorable to our country.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took a softer line Sunday, telling CBS’ “Face the Nation” the U.S. could stay in the agreement “under the right conditions” and that Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic adviser, was considering plans for how to work with other countries on climate change.

“We want to be productive. We want to be helpful,” he said.

Despite the confusion over the administration’s exact position on the Accord, Trump and his administration have been dismissive of climate change.

Shortly after Trump took office, the White House deleted nearly all mentions of climate change from its website, and Trump officials recently declined to comment on whether climate change was strengthening the hurricanes battering the Caribbean and Gulf Coast, even as local officials agreed it was.

The president campaigned on repealing the Climate Accord, and once tweeted that climate change was a Chinese hoax: