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EU's Juncker says no Paris climate deal renegotiation
by Staff Writers
Strasbourg, France (AFP) June 14, 2017

Paris has more vocal support without federal U.S., EU leader says
Washington (UPI) Jun 14, 2017 - A U.S. federal decision to leave the Paris climate agreement strengthened the resolve of those concerned by climate change, the European president said.

U.S. President Donald Trump started June with a decision to renegotiate national commitments to the climate deal or leave it altogether. Despite the national and international criticism, his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said the decision was not isolationist and was made with the interest of the American people in mind.

European Union President Jean-Claude Juncker said Wednesday from Strasbourg the U.S. decision was regrettable.

"Unfortunately, not everyone in the world sees the truth of facts," he said in a parliamentary address. "The withdrawal of the United States from the Paris agreement is more than a sad event. It is a sign of abdication from common action in dealing with the fate of our planet."

In the wake of Trump's announcement, however, several U.S. cities and states have adopted a stance that lines up with the general themes of the international climate accord. Last week, Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed bills that made his state the first one in the United States to enact legislation that implements parts of the Paris climate deal.

Trump's decision was criticized at home and abroad as handing leadership over to the rival Chinese economy and to Europe, which has clear climate benchmarks outside the Paris climate treaty. Nevertheless, the European president said that, by stepping aside, the United States strengthened the resolve of those committed to action.

"I see a strengthened resolve from all those who care about the future of the planet and who see the opportunities of a modern economy," he said. "This includes partners within the United States such as the states of California, Washington and New York – which taken together would be the world's fourth economy."

Gabriel Marty, a former French negotiator who played a pivotal role in negotiating the Paris deal, said the agreement might actually be stronger without the United States. It's better to have a country that may be "misbehaving" leave than stay in and undermine its intent.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday rejected US President Donald Trump's suggestion that the Paris climate pact could be renegotiated.

Trump's decision two weeks ago to pull out of the landmark pact was "a sign of abdication from common action", Juncker told the European Parliament.

Trump has made a vague suggestion that he could try to renegotiate terms with better guarantees for US industry.

"The European Union will not renegotiate the Paris Agreement," Juncker told the assembly in Strasbourg, France.

"Climate action does not need more distractions. We have spent 20 years negotiating. Now it is the time for action," he said.

Juncker said he saw "strengthened resolve" around the world to implement the deal, vowing to work with other US partners like the states of California and New York as well as China and Canada.

The Paris pact was signed by the United States and 194 other nations in 2015.

Juncker said EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete would host talks with his Chinese and Canadian counterparts in September to forge ahead with implementing the pact.

Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine, speaking in Strasbourg, called for EU help in fighting climate change as her Pacific archipelago is exposed to climate-induced sea level rises.

Juncker promised not to let her down.

"Madame President, we will work to help your country continue to mark the beginning of our days. We will not allow the denial of the very few to be the end of the days of the Marshall Islands," he said.

The day after Trump announced Washington was pulling out of the Paris agreement, Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to support the Paris agreement.

But the two sides failed to endorse a joint statement because of a separate trade row that EU officials said did not undermine their determination to fight climate change.

The United States is the world's second-largest greenhouse gas emitter, after China, so Trump's decision could seriously hamper efforts to cut emissions and limit global temperature increases.

US ally Marshall Islands urges EU to help Trump change climate course
Strasbourg, France (AFP) June 14, 2017 - Marshall Islands president on Wednesday appealed to the European Union to help persuade President Donald Trump to change course on climate change as her US-allied Pacific archipelago fears rising seas.

President Hilda Heine told the European Parliament that Trump was "at best misguided" when he pulled United States out of the landmark 2015 Paris agreement curbing greenhouse gases.

"In the coming three years before the US can legally withdraw, we all have a duty to work together to convince Trump of the importance of climate action," Heine told the assembly in Strasbourg, France.

"And we have compelling arguments and evidence to help change hearts and minds. Because of that I am cautiously optimistic and so are my people," she said.

The Marshall Islands gained independence from the United States in 1986, but provides Washington with weapons testing facilties, depends on US aid and uses the dollar.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, who heads up the 28-nation EU executive, lent her his support.

He told the assembly that Heine's speech pointed up the need for action because "it is a matter of survival" for her island nation and the planet.

"We will not allow the denial of the very few to be the end of the days of the Marshall Islands," Juncker said.

Heine has warned that her low-lying archipelago will slip under the waves if every country and every economic sector in the world fails to take urgent action to cut carbon emissions.

- 'Disappointing and confusing' -

Curbing greenhouse gases emitted by burning coal, oil and gas can help limit temperature increases, the melting of ice caps, a rise in sea levels and reduce severe weather.

The United States under president Barack Obama and 194 other nations agreed in Paris in 2015 to limit average global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

The Marshall Islands was among the first to ratify the treaty.

Trump, announcing the US exit from the agreement two weeks ago, said he wanted to escape an economic straitjacket that would hinder him from making good on his pro-growth agenda.

His decision produced a global backlash, not least because the US is the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter after China.

Heine said Trump's decision was "disappointing and confusing for those of us that have long believed in the importance of US global leadership".

Only last month, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hailed the Marshall Islanders' contribution to the US armed forces and the backing they give Washington at the United Nations.

US isolated as allies vow accelerated action on climate change
Bologna, Italy (AFP) June 12, 2017
US allies in the G7 said Monday that action to contain devastating climate change was irreversible and could even be accelerated, despite Donald Trump's decision to pull the United States out of the Paris accord. A two-day meeting of environment chiefs from the Group of Seven club of industrialised democracies ended with the US again disassociating itself from a statement underlining the imp ... read more

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