ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday he believed there was still time to get a global climate change deal done despite U.S. President Donald Trump saying he was pulling his country out of a landmark pact.
Speaking at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin said he did not want to judge Trump for his decision, but thought Washington could have remained in the 2015 Paris climate pact by amending the scale of existing U.S. undertakings.
“The (Paris) agreement is a good one. It’s a proper document aimed at solving one of today’s global problems,” said Putin.
The Russian leader, who is keen to try to repair battered U.S.-Russia ties, said he thought there was no point dwelling on Trump’s decision since the U.S. leader may be of the view that the necessary financial and other resources needed to comply with the accord may not be sufficient.
It was now better to try to see what kind of climate deal could be agreed, said Putin.
“We need to create the conditions for joint work because if such big emitters of greenhouse gases like the United States won’t take part at all we won’t be able to agree and sign an agreement on this,” said Putin.
Russia has signed the Paris climate pact, but is the biggest emitter of global greenhouse gases not to have ratified it yet.
Putin said Russia had agreed to cut its own emissions to 70 percent of what they were in 1990, but had not yet ratified the Paris pact because it was waiting for certain technical but important aspects of how the deal would be implemented to be worked out.
He said the deal required countries to modernise their industry, something likely to cost big business billions of dollars and incur job losses, an eventuality he said had to be properly planned for.
Russian officials have said they need more time to assess its potential impact on their economy and have spoken of drafting a strategy for low-carbon development, fuelling fears among green campaigners that Moscow may not ratify the agreement.
Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said earlier on Friday he did not think that Trump’s decision to pull his country out of the agreement would prompt a Russian rethink.
“We made the decision to join, and I don’t think we will (change) it,” the RIA news agency cited Dvorkovich as telling reporters.
Separately, Kremlin aide Andrei Belousov told reporters that the U.S. withdrawal punched a gaping hole in the pact, rendering it unworkable.
Putin, whose own spokesman said this week that Russia attached great importance to the Paris accord, said he thought there was still time to work out a new deal.
“Don’t worry, be happy,” said Putin.
Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin/Dmitry Solovyov/Alexander Winning; Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Andrew Bolton