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United Nations chief calls on world to back Paris climate deal

01 June 2017

White House officials cautioned that details were still being hammered out and that, although close, the decision on withdrawing from the 195-nation accord - agreed to in Paris in 2015 - was not finalized.

The decision would be a significant foreign policy break with almost every other nation on earth and a major reversal of the Obama administration's efforts on climate change.

His remarks at New York University's Stern School of Business came as the world waits for Donald Trump to announce whether the country will continue to uphold the Paris deal, which almost 200 countries signed as a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It was the first legally binding global climate deal.

The decision will put the United States in league with Syria and Nicaragua as the world's only non-participants in the Paris Climate Agreement.

"Now China and India have signed onto the treaty to do their part and the reneging", said John Hickey, director of the Missouri Chapter of the Sierra Club. Measuring U.S. progress toward its goal will take years and the agreement doesn't have an enforcement mechanism for countries that backslide.

'I will be announcing my decision on the Paris Accord over the next few days.

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Trump, who has called climate change "a hoax" on occasion, had shrugged off pressure from United States allies during the G7 summit in Sicily last week, putting him at odds with other members of the grouping of developed nations.

The Paris climate agreement, also referred to as the Paris climate accord, the Paris climate deal or the Paris agreement, is a pact sponsored by the United Nations to bring the world's countries together in the fight against climate change. Former President Barack Obama was a driving force behind negotiating the accord, which went into force in 2016.

Almost 200 nations agreed in 2015 to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The EU official involved in organizing the EU-China meeting said it would will "send important signals for the multinational system", as Trump moves to unpick some of the worldwide trade agreements the USA has signed up to. Under the pact, the United States committed to reducing its emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.

Environmental groups criticized the planned withdrawal.

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Mr Guterres made his appeal during a speech at New York University's Stern School of Business on Tuesday, as the world waited to hear whether the United States would uphold the Paris deal. In the days since, he has lashed out at leaders who expressed disappointment in their climate conversations with him in Sicily. Thirty CEOs of some of the world's largest companies co-signed an open letter to Trump earlier this month. "Thousands of private corporations, including major oil and gas companies, are taking their own action".

Flying home, a senior administration official declined to elaborate any further on Trump's climate thinking, saying only that "whatever the President does will make sure that we're protecting American jobs". It would then take another year before the USA could formally pull out of the agreement - meaning that the United States could remain in the Paris pact until the next presidential election.

The official, who is involved in preparing the meeting between European Union officials and China's premier, was not authorized to speak publicly and discuss the matter on condition of anonymity because the meeting statement was not finalized.

Mr Guterres was asked for his view on reports that Mr Trump was ready to pull the USA out of the Paris deal, to which he replied: "When you disagree with someone, you try to convince that person, no?" That promise helped rally supporters sharing his skepticism of global efforts to police USA carbon emissions.

One vocal critic from within the Republican party, Senator John McCain, said he believed climate change was real.

The European Union and China, meanwhile, will reaffirm their commitment to the Paris climate change accord this week regardless of whether the USA pulls out of the pact, a senior EU official said.

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The White House signaled that Trump was likely to decide on exiting the global pact - fulfilling one of his principal campaign pledges - though top aides were divided. He also had to navigate a split among his advisers. The official says Trump and his aides are looking at "caveats in the language" related to the exit. "Get on board or get left behind", he said.

United Nations chief calls on world to back Paris climate deal