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  • EXCLUSIVE: U.S. envoys told to be coy on re-engaging in Paris climate deal - cable

    U.S. diplomats should sidestep questions from foreign governments on what it would take for the Trump administration to re-engage in the global Paris climate agreement, according to a diplomatic cable seen by Reuters. 

    Read the cable here: 

    UNCLASSIFIED

    17 STATE 81148

    Aug 04, 2017 / 042138Z AUG 17

    From:
    SECSTATE WASHDC
     
    Action:
    ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE ROUTINE
     
    Captions:
    SENSITIVE
     
    Subject:
     
    Updated Guidance on U.S. International Climate Change Diplomacy
     
    1. (U) Summary: This cable provides updated guidance on U.S. climate change diplomacy following President Trump’s June 1 announcement of his intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement unless he can identify terms more favorable to the American people.  See paragraphs 8-9 for talking points and questions and answers for use with host country governments and paragraphs 10-11 for press guidance.  This cable also informs posts that the Department has transmitted a communication on Friday, August 4, to the United Nations, in its capacity as depositary for the Paris Agreement, regarding the U.S. intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.  Please see the attachments for a copy of this communication, as well as the related media notice and press guidance.  Please direct questions to the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES):  OES/EGC Deputy Director Chris Allison, OES/EGC officer Kim Carnahan, or OES/EGC officer Kathryn Bacher.  End summary.
     
    2. (SBU) In his June 1 speech, the President announced that the United States plans to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, but also made clear in his speech and subsequently, that he is open to considering the possibility of re-engaging under terms that are more favorable to the United States (reftel 17 STATE 56546).  Since the announcement, the Department has received many questions about whether we will seek to re-negotiate or amend the Paris Agreement, or negotiate an entirely new agreement.  At this time, there are no plans to do so.  Rather, the Administration is considering options for potential re-engagement in the Paris Agreement under different terms.  Posts may use the information in paragraphs 8-9 below to respond to and update foreign interlocutors.
     
    3. (SBU) As the Administration continues consideration of policy options, the United States will participate in international climate change negotiations and will attend the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP 23) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), November 6-17, in Bonn, Germany.  This will include participation in negotiations related to guidance for implementing the Paris Agreement to protect ongoing U.S. interests and preserve future policy options.
     
    4. (SBU) Posts should also be aware that the Department is transmitting a communication on Friday, August 4, to the United Nations, in its capacity as depositary for the Paris Agreement, regarding the U.S. intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement as soon as it is eligible to do so, consistent with the terms of the Agreement, unless the United States identifies suitable terms for re-engagement.  Posts will likely receive questions about this communication.  This communication will not/not constitute a formal withdrawal notification, which may not be submitted until November 2019 under the terms of the Agreement.  Rather, it will implement the President’s June 1 announcement by alerting other Paris Agreement Parties that the United States currently intends to exercise the Agreement’s withdrawal provisions when it is able to do so, unless the President identifies suitable terms for re-engagement.  Posts may share the communication and media note attached to this cable with government interlocutors if needed, and may use the press guidance attached to answer any questions you receive.  
     
    5. (SBU) Host countries may seek U.S. views on climate change language in the recent G20 Leaders’ Declaration.  The Declaration included three “Energy and Climate” paragraphs: one 
    representing shared views of all G20 members; one articulating the U.S. position; and one stating views of the other 19 countries related to the Paris Agreement and climate finance, to which the United States could not agree (including an “Action Plan for Growth”).  Although we were unable to join consensus on the final paragraph, it is important to note that the outcome did reflect consensus among the entire G20 on a portion of the climate language and that the United States was able to explain our current position and goals in a separate paragraph and continue to engage openly and constructively with partners.
     
    6. (SBU) The Department recognizes that questions about the Paris Agreement and other climate policy issues will continue to arise in other multilateral fora outside of the UNFCCC.  OES is developing additional guidance for use in such situations.  In the meantime, please contact Julia Meisel and Kathryn Bacher in OES/EGC with any questions.
     
    7. (SBU) On issues related to air pollution and the Montreal Protocol, including the Kigali Amendment, contact Larke Williams, Andrew Clark, and Lauren Stowe in OES/EQT.
     
    8. (U) Talking Points for Use with Government Interlocutors
     
    •         The United States supports a balanced approach to climate policy that reduces emissions while promoting economic growth and energy security.
    •         The President determined that the terms of our current engagement in the Paris Agreement did not balance those factors, and on June 1, he announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement unless he can identify terms for engagement that are more favorable to the American people. 
     •         In particular, the President made clear that the United States will not implement the nationally determined contribution (NDC) - i.e. the emission reduction pledge - submitted by the previous Administration.  He has also indicated that he believes that prior financial pledges, particularly to the Green Climate Fund were not in the best interest of American taxpayers.
    •         The State Department is working with the White House to further develop our approach to international climate diplomacy, and we look forward to working with our allies and partners to seek common ground and develop a way forward on this important issue. 
    •         The United States will continue to participate in international climate change negotiations and meetings, including the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP-23) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.  Such participation will include ongoing negotiations related to guidance for implementing the Paris Agreement, to protect U.S. interests and ensure all future policy options remain open to the administration.

    •         Regardless of U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement, we will continue to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions through the development and deployment of innovative technologies.
    •         At the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Hamburg, Germany, the United States joined the other G20 members in reiterating our collective commitment to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, including through increased innovation in sustainable and clean energy and energy efficiency, and working toward low greenhouse-gas emission energy systems.
    •         The United States respects the efforts of those countries that continue to participate in the Paris Agreement, and we will work with other countries to implement priority actions including reducing net emissions from forests and other lands, accessing and using fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently, deploying renewable and other clean energy technologies, and adapting to climate change, given the importance of these actions in their nationally determined contributions.
     
    9. (U) Questions and Answers for Use with Government Interlocutors
     
    GENERAL
     
    Q: Does the United States have a climate change policy?
    A: The United States supports a balanced approach to climate policy that lowers emissions while promoting economic growth and ensuring energy security.  The United States will continue to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions through innovation and technology breakthroughs, and we will work with other countries to implement priority actions including reducing net emissions from forests and other lands, accessing and using fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently, deploying renewable and other clean energy technologies, and adapting to climate change, given the importance of these actions in their nationally determined contributions. The State Department is working with the White House to develop a comprehensive international climate policy, and we look forward to working with our allies and partners to seek common ground and develop a way forward on this important issue.

    Q: Is the Administration advocating the use of fossil fuels over renewable energy?
    A: The United States supports the utilization of all energy sources in a sustainable way that also promotes jobs and economic growth.  Domestically, we remain committed to lowering U.S. greenhouse gas emissions through innovation and technology breakthroughs.  Internationally, the United States will work with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently and deploy renewable and other clean energy sources, given the importance of energy access and security in many nationally determined contributions.
     
    Q: Why did the United States insert a separate paragraph in the G20 Leaders’ Declaration and what does it mean?
    A: At the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Hamburg, Germany, the United States joined the other G20 members in reiterating our collective commitment to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, including through increased innovation in sustainable and clean energy and energy efficiency, and working toward low greenhouse gas emission energy systems.  In order to be transparent, we thought it best to reiterate the President’s intent to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. We also wanted to state our ongoing commitment to environmental goals, and specifically to working with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently and help deploy renewable and other clean energy sources, given the importance of energy access and security in many nationally 
    determined contributions.
     

    PARIS AGREEMENT

    Q: What is the process for consideration of re-engagement in the Paris Agreement?
    A: We are considering a number of factors.  I do not have any information to share on the nature or timing of the process
     
    Q: Is the United States trying to renegotiate the Paris Agreement? Are you trying to set up a parallel process?
    A: At this time, there are no plans to seek to renegotiate or amend the text of the Paris Agreement, or begin negotiations toward a new agreement.   

    Q: Will the United States adhere to its nationally determined contribution under the Paris 
    Agreement?
    A: As the President announced, we are ceasing the implementation of the nationally determined contribution submitted by the previous Administration. 
     
     
    UNFCCC NEGOTIATIONS
     
    Q: Are you remaining a Party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)?
    A: We will remain a Party to the Convention and will continue to participate in international climate change negotiations and meetings as needed to protect U.S. interests.
     
    Q: Will you attend the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties in Bonn in November?
    A: Yes, the United States plans to send a delegation to COP 23.
     
    Q: Who will lead your delegation to the COP?
    A: As in the past, the State Department will lead the U.S. delegation. 
     
    Q: Will you participate in negotiations related to the Paris Agreement?
    A. We plan to continue to participate in negotiations related to the Paris Agreement – including those to develop guidance for the Paris Agreement – in order to protect U.S. interests and ensure that decisions are not taken that would prejudice our future policy, given the President’s statements regarding potential re-engagement in the Agreement under more favorable terms
     
    Q: Is the United States still committed to meeting its 2020 target of reducing emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels?
    A: I don’t have any information to share on our 2020 target, but our emissions in 2015 were 11.5 percent below 2005 levels, and are continuing to trend downward.
     
     
    CLIMATE CHANGE FINANCE
     
    Budget
     
    Q: I heard there is no money in the U.S. budget for the UNFCCC.  Does this mean you won’t pay your dues to the UNFCCC?
    A: The United States has historically provided voluntary contributions through appropriations enacted by Congress.  U.S. voluntary contributions have supported the UNFCCC 
    through its 2017 calendar year budget.
    [IF PRESSED ON FUTURE FUNDING]: We do not yet have a fiscal year 2018 appropriation.
     
    Q: I heard there is no money in the U.S. budget for climate change. Does this mean you will stop providing climate change-related assistance?
    A: As is consistent with past years, Congress included limited funding for assistance programming related to land-use activity in the FY17 budget in light of Congressional and Administration priorities. The President’s budget proposal eliminates the Global Climate Change Initiative and U.S. funding for the Green Climate Fund in FY 2018.  We anticipate continuing support for developing countries’ energy, land-use, and resilience activities where mutually beneficial to our broader foreign policy, economic development, and national security objectives.  This includes working with other countries to help them deploy renewable and other clean energy technologies and improve sustainable land use in support of their nationally determined contributions.
     
    Q: Is the United States revoking previously obligated climate finance? Will programs be 
    eliminated even if funding has already been appropriated by Congress?
    A:  While the President’s FY 2018 budget request eliminates the Global Climate Change Initiative and U.S. funding for the Green Climate Fund, previously obligated funds are continuing to be used for their original purposes.

     
    Fossil Fuels
     
    Q: Do you now want multilateral development banks (MDBs) to finance fossil-fuel projects in developing countries?
    A: The Executive Director for the United States at each of the MDBs will exercise the U.S. voice and vote on MDB projects and energy policy in a manner that:
    •         Promotes universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and clean energy.
    •         Helps countries access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently, and helps deploy renewable and other clean energy sources.
    •         Supports development of robust, efficient, competitive, and integrated global markets for energy.
     
    Q: Why did the U.S. policy on coal finance at MDBs change?
    A: The former policy, which limited the ability of the U.S. Executive Directors (USEDs) at the MDBs to approve coal-fired power generation projects except in very limited circumstances, has been replaced with a set of objectives that provides the United States with greater flexibility to approve projects designed to meet developing economies’ energy needs, ensure energy security, and promote economic growth. The new principles will allow the USEDs the flexibility to approve, as appropriate, a broad range of power projects, including the generation of power using clean and efficient fossil fuels and renewable energy, as well as investments in energy efficiency, energy storage, and advanced energy management technology.

     
    Green Climate Fund
     
    Q: Are you going to push for the GCF to finance coal?
    A: Relevant agencies are in the process of reviewing existing policies to ensure alignment with the President’s energy goals and priorities.
     
    Q: Will you continue to participate in GCF meetings?
    A: The United States continues to participate in meetings of the Green Climate Fund Board in order to ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars previously contributed to the Fund are appropriately managed.

     
    $100 Billion Goal

    Q: What is the U.S. position on the goal of mobilizing $100 billion in climate finance 
    annually? Will you stop working toward it?
     A: The Administration has not yet formulated a position on the collective goal to mobilize $100 billion annually from 2020 through a broad range of public and private sources.
     
     
    ADAPTATION
     
    Q: Does the Administration support action to adapt to the impacts of climate change?
    A: The United States stands ready to continue working with other countries to implement programs aimed at promoting food and water security, as well as health resiliency.
     
    Q: Will the U.S. fulfill its pledge to double public, grant-based adaptation investments by 2020?
    A:  The President has expressed concern that financial pledges by the previous Administration were not in the best interest of American taxpayers.  The President’s budget proposal eliminates the Global Climate Change Initiative and U.S. funding for the Green Climate Fund in FY 2018.  We anticipate supporting programs that may achieve adaptation and mitigation objectives while advancing broader U.S. national security interests and fostering U.S. economic opportunities. 

     
    ICAO
     
    Q: Will the United States still participate in the global market-based measures scheme in the International Civil Aviation Organization? (Note: Reftel [16 USICAO 82] provides more information on ICAO’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or 
    CORSIA.)
    A: The Administration has not taken a position on CORSIA.  U.S. technical experts continue to engage constructively in the ongoing development of the standards and recommended practices (SARPs) necessary for CORSIA implementation, to ensure that they protect U.S. interests and preserve all future policy options for the administration.  U.S. airlines are also actively involved in the discussions regarding the implementation of CORSIA and have recently publicly reiterated their support for CORSIA.

     
    10. (U) Talking Points for Use with Press (distributed July 21)
     
    •         The United States supports a balanced approach to climate policy that lowers emissions while promoting economic growth and ensuring energy security.
    •         The President determined the terms of our current engagement in the Paris Agreement did not balance those factors, and on June 1, he announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.  At the same time, he indicated openness to considering possible re-engagement if he can identify terms for participation that are more favorable to the American people. 
    •         We are open to the possibility of re-engaging in the Paris Agreement under terms that the President determines are fair to the United States and its workers. 
    •         Regardless of U.S.  participation in the Paris Agreement, we will continue to work to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions through the development and deployment of innovative technologies.
    •         At the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Hamburg, Germany, the United States joined the other G20 members in reiterating our collective commitment to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, including through increased innovation in sustainable and clean energy and energy efficiency, and working towards low greenhouse-gas emission energy systems.
    •         The United States stands ready to work with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently and help deploy renewable and other clean energy sources, given the importance many countries assign to energy access and security in their nationally determined contributions.
     
     
    Green Climate Fund:
    •         The President’s fiscal year 2018 budget request eliminated funding for the Green Climate Fund. 
    •         The United States continues to participate in meetings of the Green Climate Fund Board in order to ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars previously contributed to the Fund are appropriately managed.
     
     
    11. (U) Questions and Answers for Use with Press
     
    Q: Will the United States continue to participate in international climate negotiations, 
    such as those held under the UNFCCC?
    A: The United States will continue to participate in climate negotiations and meetings related to the implementation of the Paris Agreement and other issues, to protect U.S. interests and ensure all future policy options remain open to the administration.
     
    Q: What is the Administration’s position on the Paris Agreement?
    A: The President made clear that he believes that the terms under which the United States joined the Paris Agreement are unfair to American businesses, workers, and taxpayers.  That is why he stated his intent to withdraw from the Agreement, as soon as we are eligible to do so, consistent with the terms of the Agreement, unless suitable terms for reengagement can be identified. The President is sincere in his commitment to look for a path to reengage that takes into account his concerns for U.S. economic growth and energy security.  The United States respects the efforts of those countries that continue to participate in the Paris Agreement.

    Q: Will the United States continue to engage on climate change and environmental issues?
    A: The United States remains committed to lowering its greenhouse gas emissions through innovation and to protecting the environment.  The United States has a strong record of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions through technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship.  We will continue to be a world leader in innovation, particularly the development of next-generation energy technology. 
     
    Q: What are the next steps that the State Department will take?
    A: We are working with the White House and interagency partners to consider our priorities for international climate diplomacy, including consideration of reengagement in the Paris Agreement on different terms.  We look forward to working with our allies and partners to seek common ground and develop a way forward on this important issue.
     
    Q: What is the Administration’s position on recently announced efforts by various U.S. state and city governments related to addressing climate change?
    A: This Administration believes in cooperative federalism, and therefore is supportive of states and cities making their own choices within their respective borders.
     
     
    MINIMIZE CONSIDERED
    Signature:
    Tillerson



    by Derek Caney edited by elizabeth.culliford 8/8/2017 7:00:05 PM
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