Accessibility links

USA

US Diplomats Advised to Give Generalized Answers to Paris Climate Deal Questions

  • VOA News

FILE - In this March 9, 2010, photo, a tanker truck passes an oil refinery in Richmond, California.

The U.S. State Department is advising its diplomats to sidestep questions from foreign governments about the Trump administration's stance on the Paris climate deal.

The Reuters news agency reported Tuesday that a cable sent Friday to U.S. embassies by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson provided prospective questions foreign government officials could ask diplomats and suggested answers.

For example, according to Reuters, if asked, "What is the process for consideration of re-engagement in the Paris Agreement?," the diplomat should give a generalized response, such as, "We are considering a number of factors. I do not have any information to share on the nature or timing of the process."

Tillerson's cable came a little more than two months after Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the landmark Paris climate deal and on the day that the administration was reviewing a climate change report prepared by 13 federal agencies, the conclusions of which conflict with administration perspectives.

FILE - Indian women walk home after collecting drinking water from a well at Mengal Pada in Thane district in Maharashtra state, May 4, 2016.
FILE - Indian women walk home after collecting drinking water from a well at Mengal Pada in Thane district in Maharashtra state, May 4, 2016.

The document, which was leaked ahead of publication and reported by The New York Times on Tuesday, said Americans were seeing more heat waves and rainfall as a result of climate change.

The report found human activity was "extremely likely" the cause of more than half the Earth's temperature increase since 1951, a position at odds with the administration's belief that the cause of global warming is uncertain.

The report said human impact caused an increase in the global temperature of 0.6 degree to 0.7 degree Celsius between 1951 to 2010 and that heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions led the way as the primary contributor.

'No alternative explanations'

"There are no alternative explanations, and no natural cycles are found in the observational record that can explain the observed changes in climate," said the study, the Climate Science Special Report.

The Trump administration received a copy of the most recent draft of the report several weeks ago, senior administration officials said. It was unclear whether the administration, which announced in June it would withdraw from the Paris accord, would approve the report. The study will be included in the National Climate Assessment, which is mandated by Congress every four years.

FILE - In this July 24, 2016 file photo drivers are stuck in a traffic jam on highway A 1 near to Bad Oldesloe in Germany.
FILE - In this July 24, 2016 file photo drivers are stuck in a traffic jam on highway A 1 near to Bad Oldesloe in Germany.

Some scientists were concerned that the administration could amend or suppress the report. Conversely, skeptics of human-caused climate change were equally concerned that the report would be publicly released, along with the more comprehensive National Climate Assessment.

The report concluded that if humans immediately halted greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures would still rise an additional 0.3 degree Celsius this century, compared with the actual projected increase of 2 degrees Celsius.

Small increases in global temperatures can significantly affect the climate. For example, a global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees to 2 degrees Celsius could cause more intense rainstorms, longer heat waves and lead to more rapid deterioration of coral reefs, scientists say.

FILE - This May 2016 photo provided by NOAA shows bleaching and some dead coral around Jarvis Island, part of the U.S. Pacific Remote Marine National Monument.
FILE - This May 2016 photo provided by NOAA shows bleaching and some dead coral around Jarvis Island, part of the U.S. Pacific Remote Marine National Monument.

Policy recommendations were not included in the study, but it emphasized the need to stabilize the global mean temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius by significantly cutting carbon dioxide levels. An increase above 2 degrees Celsius would push the global environment closer to catastrophic changes, scientists have said.

The Paris climate accord, in which nearly 200 countries participate, includes an agreement to cut or limit fossil fuel emissions. The report said meeting the emissions goals would be a significant step toward managing global warming.

XS
SM
MD
LG