Published: Thu, June 01, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

UN chief urges action on climate change as Trump debates

Despite reports that he will have the US exit the Paris climate agreement, Trump tweeted that he will be announcing his final decision "over the next few days".

As recently as last week, a senior White House official told reporters Mr. Trump was "evolving" on the issue of climate change after meeting with world leaders who encouraged him to preserve the accord.

The reported decision comes on the heels of a letter from 22 Republican senators to the president, urging him to withdraw from the major worldwide agreement reached under President Obama in 2015.

Almost 200 countries, including the USA under President Obama, signed the 2015 treaty agreeing to voluntarily reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to combat climate change. The Paris accord has been signed by 195 countries, meaning the United States joins just Syria and Nicaragua in refusing to unite to fight global climate change.

Over the weekend, Trump said in a tweet he would make a decision on the Paris accord sometime this week.

An exit by the USA, the world's second-largest greenhouse gas emitter, could render the pact largely meaningless.

Mr Guterres said that since then 147 nations had ratified the Paris Agreement, representing more than 82 per cent of global emissions.

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China, India, Canada and the European Union have said they will stick by the deal, even if the USA pulls out.

Leaving the deal would fulfill a central campaign pledge, but would certainly anger global allies that spent years in hard negotiations that produced an accord to reduce carbon emissions.

And while Mr Guterres never mentioned Mr Trump's name, those in the audience were left in little doubt as to where his comments were directed when he said the climate conversation "should cease to be a shouting match". Originally, it was an effort to reduce global emissions, but has since become a target of the Trump Administration.

Alternatively, the president could pursue a faster course, by dropping out of an underlying treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

During Trump's overseas trip last week, other G7 leaders including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pressed him to keep the the pact.

Several US media including CNN, CBS, ABC and Politico also reported that the White House was expected to announce a withdrawal from the 2015 accord once details of the process have been worked out. "Climate change presents both business risks and business opportunities".

But the official says there may be "caveats in the language" that Trump uses to announce the withdrawal - leaving open the possibility that the decision isn't final.

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