September 16, 2017 22:32 GMT by theguardian.com

White House denies US is planning to remain in Paris climate accord

White House denies US is planning to remain in Paris climate accord

Trump administration dismisses claim by EU official that US has offered to re-engage with the deal

The White House has denied reports that it planned to stay in the Paris climate agreement, saying its position on leaving was unchanged, and that it would only stay in if it got more “favourable” terms.

The Trump administration was forced to make a statement on Saturday after reports emerged as ministers from more than 30 countries held talks in Montreal, Canada, this weekend preparing for the upcoming United Nations climate summit in November.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump administration officials had said at the Montreal talks that they wouldn’t pull out of the Paris accord and were offering to re-engage with the deal, citing the EU’s climate commissioner.

The WSJ quoted Cañete saying: “The US has stated that they will not renegotiate the Paris accord, but they will try to review the terms on which they could be engaged under this agreement.”

According to the AFP news agency, Cañete also said there would be a meeting on the sidelines of the UN general assembly in New York City early next week with US representatives “to assess what is the real US position”, and noted: “It’s a message which is quite different to the one we heard from President Trump in the past.”

Trump provoked outcry among the majority of world leaders and the science community when he gave notice earlier this year that Paris was a bad deal for the US and he would pull the country out of the deal to cut emissions.

On Saturday, responding to the reports, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in an email to the Guardian: “There has been no change in the United States’ position on the Paris agreement. As the President has made abundantly clear, the United States is withdrawing unless we can re-enter on terms that are more favorable to our country”.

Ministers from 34 economies are meeting in Montreal in part to head off potential efforts by the US to weaken the accord at the November UN climate summit in Bonn, Germany.

Though Trump said in June that the country would pull out of the Paris accord, there has been little effort by the US to formally extricate itself from the agreement.

Half the G20 is represented at the weekend meeting in Montreal, though there are no senior US climate officials in attendance.

The US delegation is headed by Everett Eissenstat, deputy director of the US National Economic Council.

After the summit, Cañete is set to travel to New York and meet Trump adviser Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, on Monday.

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