BONN, Germany (Reuters) - Many nations’ view that the United States should do more to fight climate change because it is the biggest historical emitter is a “distraction” from technological innovation, an adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday.
Trump, who doubts mainstream scientific findings that greenhouse gases are the prime cause of global warming, said in June that he would pull out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement and instead promote U.S. jobs in coal and oil.
That announcement caused dismay in many nations, partly because the United States has emitted most carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution, ahead of the European Union, China and Russia.
Many other nations are urging Trump to reconsider.
George David Banks, a special assistant to Trump on energy and the environment attending 200-nation talks working on details of the Paris pact in Germany, said the focus should now be on innovation rather than casting blame for the past.
“That kind of argument looking at historical, cumulative, versus what the facts are today is a distraction from what needs to occur when figuring out how do we deploy clean energy technologies,” he told reporters.
“When you are looking at the transformation of energy systems, technology breakthroughs, it’s kind of all hands on deck,” he said. “All countries need to be involved in the process as much as possible.”
A key principle of a U.N. 1992 climate convention, signed by Republican President George Bush, is that developed nations should take the lead in combating climate change because they have done most to cause the problem.
Although the United States is the biggest cumulative emitter, China recently overtook it as the biggest annual emitter of gases blamed for causing heat waves, droughts, species extinctions and rising sea levels.
The two-week talks in Bonn, which end on Friday, are working on a detailed “rule book” for the pact such as how to report and check each nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Earlier, Judith Garber, a senior State Department official leading the U.S. delegation, said Washington had been engaging with other nations in Bonn. Under the rules of the Paris Agreement, the United States cannot withdraw before late 2020.
“Although he (Trump) has indicated that the United States intends to withdraw at the earliest opportunity, we remain open to the possibility of rejoining at a later date under terms more favorable to the American people,” she said.
No nations in Bonn have offered to re-negotiate the Paris Agreement, diplomats say.
Reporting By Alister Doyle