WASHINGTON The United States should continue to be "engaged" in international climate change discussions but the Paris climate change agreement is a "bad deal" for the country, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Sunday.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt did not confirm whether the United States would remain in the global climate change pact, under which nearly all countries agreed in 2015 to halt or curb their greenhouse gas emissions, even as the world's biggest emitter China reaffirmed its commitment to the agreement.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to have his first meeting with President Donald Trump on April 6-7. Xi and other Chinese officials have pledged to remain in the agreement.
"To demonstrate the leadership that we have shown on this issue with China and India and other nations is very important and discussions should ensue," Pruitt said on Fox News Sunday, "but what Paris represents is a bad deal for this country."
Last week, Trump signed an executive order rolling back former President Barack Obama's climate change policies, including the Clean Power Plan to slash carbon emissions from power plants -- a key factor in the United States' ability to meet its Paris commitments.
The executive order did not address the question of whether the United States would remain in the agreement but White House spokesman Sean Spicer said last week a decision would be made before the G7 summit in June.
Sources told Reuters that White House officials are getting feedback from fossil fuel companies about the pros and cons of staying in the agreement.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said last week all countries should "move with the times and "fulfill their promises and earnestly take proactive steps to jointly push the enforcement of this agreement."
Pruitt said China and India signed onto the agreement without being required to reduce emissions. Under the agreement each country has submitted a national strategy to meet its own emission reduction goals.
Asked on Sunday to clarify a statement he made last month that carbon dioxide -- emitted from fossil fuel power plants -- is not a primary contributor to climate change, Pruitt said "human activities contribute to that change in some measure."
"The real question is how much are we contributing to that and measuring that with precision," he said.
(Reporting By Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Andrea Ricci)