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Might America Stay in the Paris Climate Pact After All?


Some members of Trump’s administration appear not to be ruling it out. Over the weekend, off the back of a climate meeting in Montreal, secretary of state Rex Tillerson told CBS that the government is “open to finding … conditions where we can remain engaged with others on what we all agree is still a challenging issue.” National security adviser H.R. McMaster also told ABC that America could re-enter the international climate pact if  “there’s an agreement that benefits the American people.”

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal also says ($) that White House economic chief Gary Cohn will hold meetings with foreign officials today to clarify Trump’s climate commitments, as world leaders arrive in New York for a UN meeting. According to Tillerson, Cohn is tasked with considering “other ways in which we can work with partners in the Paris climate accord.” For its part, the White House says that “there has been no change in the U.S.’s position on the Paris agreement ... the U.S. is withdrawing unless we can re-enter on terms that are more favorable to our country.”

At the heart of all this is a belief within the Trump administration that the Paris climate agreement is unfairly weighted against the U.S. But rather than a complete withdrawal—which no country that signed the accord can start until 2019, and which would then take until after the next presidential election in 2020 to complete—some officials may be considering how things could be rejiggered rather than totally scrapped. The Wall Street Journal also explains in another report ($) that European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, believes that the U.S. “will not renegotiate the Paris accord, but they will try to review the terms on which they could be engaged under this agreement.”

Trump announced in June that he would withdraw America from the pact. Some kind of alternative arrangement that doesn’t see America exit from the agreement completely could be beneficial: as we’ve argued before, Trump's withdrawal could cede economic opportunities to other nations.