The US state department has responded to a peer review of its climate plan with curt answers emphasising the Trump administration’s view that climate action kills jobs.
Under the multilateral assessment part of the UN climate process, negotiators have a chance to question developed countries’ emission reduction plans.
On Thursday, the US answers were posted to the UN website. US officials will also take oral questions at climate talks in Bonn, Germany on Monday.
When asked by China how the US planned to meet its 2020 targets after the Trump administration had scrapped Barack Obama’s clean power plan – which was affecting emissions even before it came into force – the US said only: “The Administration is reviewing existing policies and regulations in the context of a focus on strengthening US economic growth and promoting jobs for American workers, and will not support policies or regulations that have adverse effects on energy independence and US competitiveness.”
This stock phrase was deployed throughout the document, including to a question posed by Brazil on how the US planned to increase its ambition over time.
China asked whether the US had plans to deploy a market mechanism – a carbon tax or emissions trading scheme – to meet its 2020 target. The US responded in one word: “No.”
Former US government officials told Climate Home this week that US climate negotiators were flying into Bonn with little guidance on their position at the talks.
President Donald Trump is reviewing US participation in the Paris climate agreement. During the 2016 election, he campaigned on a platform that blamed Obama’s climate change commitments for the slow death of the US coal industry. This has been refuted repeatedly by economists.
On Thursday, UN environment chief Erik Solheim told Reuters the US would lose jobs if it withdrew from the Paris accord or pulled back from clean energy technologies: “There is no doubt where the future is and that is what all the private sector companies have understood… The future is green.
“Obviously if you are not a party to the Paris agreement, you will lose out. And the main losers of course will be the people of the United States itself because all the interesting, fascinating new green jobs would go to China and to the other parts of the world that are investing heavily in this.”