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Environment ministers meet as US stays aloof on Paris deal

Environment ministers from nearly 30 countries have met in Montreal to talk implementation of the Paris climate accord. The US has been sending mixed messages on the deal, following a report it might soften its stance.

Washington might stay in the Paris climate accord "under the right conditions," the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Sunday.

In an interview for the American news network CBS,  Tillerson said that the US wanted to be "productive" and "helpful" on climate change. The US President Donald Trump was also wiling to find the right terms that take American economy into account, he added.

"The president said he's open to finding those conditions where we can remain engaged with others on what we all agree is still a challenging issue," he said during the televised interview.

Read: Mother Nature's wrath: Is climate change making mega-hurricanes the new normal?

Washington says 'no change' in position

Just hours earlier, the White House denied reports about remaining in the Paris deal.

"There has been no change in the United States' position on the Paris agreement," the White House said in a statement. "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."

The EU's top climate official Miguel Arias Canete previously said that Washington would "try to review the terms on which they could be engaged' with the emissions deal, but would not renegotiate it.

Canete also said there would soon be a meeting with American representatives "to assess what is the real US position," noting "it's a message which is quite different to the one we heard from President Trump in the past."

Rest of the world presses on

US President Donald Trump announced in June that the United States would withdraw from the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord, which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2050 compared to pre-industrial levels.

Environment ministers from more than 30 countries gathered in Montreal on Saturday to outline plans to implement the climate accord, which they have said cannot be renegotiated.

Read: EU, Canada, China try to isolate US ahead of Bonn climate talks 

Organized by Canada, China and the European Union, the summit comes ahead of a major UN climate conference in Bonn, Germany, in November, bringing together nearly 200 countries that signed onto the Paris climate deal. 

The United States has said it will continue to attend UN climate change meetings up until 2020, when its withdrawal enters into effect.

Watch video 02:00

Gore slams Trump's climate policy

dj,cw/kl (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

 

 

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