COPENHAGEN The European Union is not considering imposing trade sanctions on the United States if President Donald Trump quits a global pact to fight climate change, EU Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said on Thursday.
"That is not something we are considering," Canete told Reuters when asked whether the EU might slap trade or other sanctions on Washington if Trump pulls out of the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement championed by his predecessor Barack Obama.
"We are going to show them that implementing our targets is very positive for the economy, very positive for developing sophisticated technological advances and it is very positive for the welfare of the citizens," he said.
Trump was to announce at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) on Thursday whether he will keep the United States in the pact or take it out, and a source close to the matter said he was preparing to keep a campaign pledge to leave.
Trump, who wants to promote U.S. coal industry and U.S. jobs, has resisted calls by many allies to stay in the Paris agreement, which aims to shifting the global economy from fossil fuels to cleaner energy.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned on Thursday that if the Paris accord frayed because of a U.S. pullout, "then it means we will be doing less on climate protection, the deserts will grow, war and civil war will take place over water, with corresponding movements of migrants".
Italian Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti said on Thursday he felt China will take the lead on the Paris accord if the United States reneged on climate commitments, but Europe would also step up its efforts.
"Obviously, we are worried, even though I want to say very clearly that Italy, and I think all of Europe, will push ahead even harder with the Paris agreement," Galletti said.
"Maybe Trump can turn back, but I don't know how much the people and business will follow him on this, because today making environmental policy is also good for companies. It is a question of competitiveness, not only in terms of the climate."
Economists say a U.S. pullout could give American exports an unfair price advantage compared to products from the EU, where industries must pay penalties for emitting carbon dioxide.
"We are concerned but we (have) decided to implement... and we will join forces with other parties, especially with China, to develop further cooperation on climate and energy," Canete said in an interview during a trip to Denmark.
China and the European Union will seek on Friday to save the international pact against climate change by deepening their ties within climate and energy policies.
A U.S. departure could have sweeping implications. The deal relies heavily on reductions in emissions by big polluter nations, and the United States is the world's second-biggest carbon dioxide emitter behind China.
"This is not a short-term policy under one single administration, this is a century-long in which there will be changes in the American administration," Canete said, referring to the U.S. elections cycle.
"There is a binding global goal and we have to see if the efforts the different parties are doing reach the goals. If they don't we have to increase the level of ambition. There is no sanction under the Paris agreement."
(Additional reporting by Giancarlo Navach in Rome and Madeline Chambers in Berlin; editing by Alister Doyle and Mark Heinrich)