U.S. Climate Change Envoy Sees Way Forward With Trump

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By Dean Scott

Nov. 14 — President Barack Obama’s top climate envoy Nov. 14 held out hope that the U.S. will stay in the Paris climate pact even after Donald Trump becomes president, although he acknowledged U.S. climate aid may take a hit.

“There is flexibility for our country” under the Paris climate pact reached by the U.S. and nearly 200 nations last December, “and the new administration might decide to take advantage of some of that flexibility” as opposed to trying to dismantle the deal, said Jonathan Pershing, U.S. special envoy for climate change.

While attending the United Nations’ climate summit in Marrakech, Morocco, Pershing called it “premature to speculate” on what Trump might do once in the Oval Office. But Pershing echoed many of the hopes voiced by climate advocates in Marrakech: that Trump will ultimately decide against a U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, once he realizes how doing so could deeply harm relationships overseas.

Trump’s Campaign Promise

Trump vowed in the campaign to “cancel” U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement and has signaled that Environmental Protection Agency regulations and other greenhouse gas rules could be on the chopping block.

Trump may ultimately come to see “the commitment globally and the interest globally in the issue” of climate change, Pershing said at the UN climate summit, known as the 22nd Conference of the Parties.

On the issue of climate finance, Pershing said: “My personal view around this is that we will continue to meet our commitments,” which include the $3 billion over four years Obama pledged to the Green Climate Fund; that’s part of a $100 billion a year the U.S. and other developed nations pledged in the run-up to the Paris talks.

The funding is to come from combined public and private sources and go to developing nations hit by climate impacts.

“But I know that perhaps more important than that is the need to leverage private sector investment,” Pershing said.

“If we come [up] a little short of that it will have only a marginal effect on the $100 billion” commitment, Pershing said, because he expects future public dollars to get a bigger bang for the buck in leveraging private funding.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dean Scott in Marrakech at dscott@bna.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Greg Henderson at gHenderson@bna.com

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