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A More Conciliatory Tone on Climate from the U.S. at Global Talks

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By LISA FRIEDMAN NOVEMBER 16, 2017 November 16, 2017 See full NYTimes article here

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BONN, Germany — The senior American diplomat at the United Nations climate talks here told world leaders Thursday that the United States would remain engaged in global climate change negotiations even as it planned to exit the Paris agreement “at the earliest opportunity.”

Judith G. Garber, a State Department acting undersecretary, gave the first official American remarks to the United Nations climate body since President Trump announced in June that he would abandon the Paris deal. It was a far more conciliatory message than a presentation earlier in the week by White House officials promoting fossil fuels, which drew catcalls and a walkout.

Ms. Garber’s address made no mention of coal while promising to help other countries “adapt to the impacts of climate change.” It was the only mention of climate change in the three-minute presentation, but that was one more than many Trump administration critics had expected. And in contrast to the noisy protests that greeted the White House fossil fuel event, Ms. Garber’s speech in a tightly-controlled plenary hall was met with polite applause.

[Note: I (Ellie) was in this hall today before the US spoke…]

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The Trump administration has sent two sets of officials to the Bonn climate talks, where 195 nations are gathered to seek ways to strengthen the Paris agreement…..

But because the Trump administration cannot officially exit the Paris climate agreement until 2020, it also sent a small State Department team to negotiate details of international climate policy, like greater transparency for emissions reporting from China and India.

Environmentalists here said they found Ms. Garber’s message confusing, and a sign of the awkward tightrope that America’s diplomats are walking as they work on a deal Mr. Trump has disavowed….

…Todd D. Stern, the former State Department climate envoy under President Barack Obama who helped design the Paris agreement, traveled to Bonn to tell his former counterparts that he believed America’s absence from the global accord would be short-lived.  He said his message to other nations was “not to let the retrograde, head-in-the-sand conduct in Washington divert you from your purpose and your course and your commitment. It’s too important to let that happen. And I just firmly believe the U.S. will be back in.” [See Todd Stern’s presentation today on the future of the Paris Agreement — at the alternative US Climate Action Center in Bonn– here.]…

Graphic | Here’s How Far the World Is From Meeting Its Climate Goals Two years after countries signed a landmark climate agreement in Paris, the world remains far off course from preventing drastic global warming in the decades ahead.

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