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Canada won’t renegotiate Paris or keep it from G20 to placate Trump: Liberals

G7 environment ministers pledge the Paris climate accord is the ``irreversible'' global tool to address climate change.

June 13, 2017   by Mia Rabson

US won’t join with the other six G7 countries in reaffirming their Paris commitments.
Photo: Thinkstock

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he did not ask German Chancellor Angela Merkel to consider keeping all mentions of the Paris climate change accord out of the upcoming G20 leaders meeting statement to placate US President Donald Trump.

German publication Der Spiegel had reported on a call between the two leaders last week, saying Trudeau wondered about the potential downside of striking mentions of the accord from the communique so as not to further provoke Trump.

Merkel is hosting the G20 meeting in July.

Trudeau was pressed on his alleged comments by NDP leader Tom Mulcair.

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“No, I did not say that,” Trudeau said.

The Prime Minister’s Office has made a request for a correction to the article, but they have not sought to clarify Trudeau’s remarks to Merkel, saying she knows where he stands on the matter.

Mulcair was not placated by Trudeau’s denial, accusing him of being all style and no substance when it comes to climate change. He said unless Der Spiegel corrects the report, he chooses to believe their account over Trudeau’s.

Thus far, the article has not been changed.

Trump said earlier this month he intends to withdraw the US from the agreement unless it can be renegotiated. On June 12, the United States refused to sign onto a pledge at a G7 environment ministers’ meeting calling the Paris climate accord the “irreversible” global tool to address climate change.

The G7 environment ministers issued the final communique after their two-day meeting ended June 12, the first since the United States announced it was withdrawing from the pact.

In a footnote to the communique, the US said it wouldn’t join with the other six countries in reaffirming their Paris commitments, but said it was taking action on its own to reduce its carbon footprint.

The US did participate in other aspects of the 15-page statement on sustainable development and private sector financing of climate change adaptation.

In a statement, Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said the communique and the meeting are proof the US is “resetting the agenda” on the Paris agreement.

“Today’s action of reaching consensus makes clear that the Paris Agreement is not the only mechanism by which environmental stewardship can be demonstrated,” he said.

However, Canada’s environment minister, Catherine McKenna, said the meeting did the opposite.

“Every country but the United States expressed their absolutely unwavering commitment to the swift and effective implementation of the Paris agreement,” she said in a conference call with reporters.

“We confirmed it is the global instrument for effectively and urgently tackling climate change. It was very sad to see the United States was relegated to a footnote on climate action.”

Trump has said he would be open to renegotiating Paris, something most European G7 nations have already rejected. McKenna said she told Pruitt that Canada won’t support that either.

“I also asked the United States to clarify its position that it wanted to renegotiate the Paris agreement,” McKenna said.

“I made it clear that the Paris agreement is not open for renegotiation although we are in the phase of negotiating the rules.”

The Paris agreement was signed by 195 nations in December 2015 to outline what the world needs to do to limit the increase in temperature of the planet to less than two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times.

The participants now have to negotiate the rules for implementing Paris, including how each country will report their efforts and progress, what kind of monitoring there will be and what can be done to promote compliance.

The agreement is non-binding. The US will become the third country not to be part of Paris.

Neither Syria nor Nicaragua signed the deal in 2015. Nicaragua held out because it felt the agreement did not go far enough. Syria couldn’t participate in the Paris negotiations because of sanctions against the government amid the ongoing civil war.


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