The United States could remain in the Paris climate accord under the right conditions, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Sunday, signaling a shift in tone from the Trump administration, which angered allies with its decision to pull out of the agreement.
However, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders took to Twitter to deny these claims, saying that the USA would withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords unless it was given terms favourable to Americans.
The European Union's commissioner for climate action and energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, told reporters in Montreal that USA officials have said that they will "review the terms on which they could be engaged" with the Paris deal, according to spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen, who spoke to CNN by phone.
The climate official, Miguel Arias Canete, was meeting with ministers from some 30 countries in Montreal on Saturday to push forward on implementing the Paris deal without the U.S.
Donald Trump moved to pull America from its commitments under the Paris Climate Accord earlier this year, saying the effort to blunt the effect of climate change by reducing emissions would hobble the U.S. economy.
The withdrawal process will take until November 2020 to complete.
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In her opening statement, Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said these meetings are critical in order to show the world that the nations are bound together in fighting climate change. In March, he signed an executive order rolling back most of the Obama-era environmental regulations that the previous administration had used as a US down payment toward its nationally determined contributions. In the interim, Trump has said he hopes to renegotiate an accord "on terms that are fair to the United States".
Just hours earlier, the White House denied reports about remaining in the Paris deal.
Yet within hours of the news, the White House released a statement claiming the US has zero interest in re-engaging in the Paris agreement.
"I was in the meeting, and the U.S. negotiator effectively did not close the door on continuing in the agreement, and ruled out looking for a new agreement". "If we can combine all these matters, we could make the Paris Agreement a great success".
The remarks came days before Trump is to speak before world leaders at the UN General Assembly in NY, where climate change seems sure to be a major topic.
He said it was part of his "solemn duty to protect America" and he would seek a new deal that would not disadvantage U.S. businesses.