US to re-engage with the Paris Agreement?
The US recently made its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change official, inviting significant criticism. In this background, White House officials in a recent meeting conveyed that US position remains unchanged while adding that they may re-enter the agreement on more favorable terms. This comes amid speculation that President Trump may be softening his stance on the issue. Here's more about it.
What is the Paris Agreement?
Under the Paris Accord signed in December 2015, 195 nations agreed to make domestic efforts to limit global temperatures below two degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels, considered crucial by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to avoid the effects of dangerous climate change.
What has happened so far?
President Donald Trump announced US withdrawal from the Paris agreement in June. Trump claimed that commitments under the agreement put the US economy in a disadvantageous position compared to India and China, who were allowed more favorable terms. However, during his France visit in July, Trump said, "Something could happen with respect to the Paris accord" indicating his willingness to revisit a complete withdrawal.
Negotiating a new deal?
"The United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord... but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or a really entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States," Trump said while making his announcement.
Has Trump changed his stance on the Paris Agreement?
White House officials reportedly signaled its willingness to review the terms under which the US could engage under the agreement, in a recent meeting with environment ministers from 30 countries. A later statement from the White House said, "There has been no change in the US position. The US is withdrawing unless we can re-enter on terms that are more favorable to our country."
What does this mean?
The US seems uninterested in a complete withdrawal from the Paris agreement. Instead, it may look towards re-engaging with the agreement as a signatory, representing a major U-turn from Trump's earlier stance. This would mean that the US can still partake in negotiations while avoiding commitments. However, the official position remains unclear and the US is likely to convey its position soon.