US in ‘No Rush’ to Make Climate Change Decision

12 May, 2017

Arctic nations called for the world to address climate warming at a meeting Thursday in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Members of the eight-nation Arctic Council, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, signed the "Fairbanks Declaration 2017." It noted that the Arctic is warming much faster than other parts of the world. And it said that action is needed to reduce the effects of climate change.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (seated right) and U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski pose with Nulato Chief Mickey Stickman at an Arctic Council event in Fairbanks, Alaska.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (seated right) and U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski pose with Nulato Chief Mickey Stickman at an Arctic Council event in Fairbanks, Alaska.

But, Tillerson also told the council that the Trump administration has not yet decided on its climate change policy.

"We're not going to rush to make a decision. We're going to work to make the right decision for the United States."

Tillerson's message was similar to what the White House said earlier this week: President Donald Trump has delayed his decision on the Paris climate agreement.

It is the second time Trump has put off making a decision.

During the election, Trump said he would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement on climate change. He has said it is bad for the U.S. economy and hurts the coal industry.

Pressure has been building, however, on the U.S. administration to remain a part of the Paris climate change agreement. It was signed by 195 nations -- including the U.S.-- in Paris in 2015.

The treaty seeks to reduce global warming by cutting greenhouse gases around the world.

China, the United States and the European Union are the world's worst polluters. If the United States pulls out of the climate change agreement, it would slow the progress towards cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini spoke Tuesday at the United Nations in New York City.

"Everything is linked. So we continue to expect that the United States will find a way to remain committed to the Paris agreements. I know there is a debate ongoing, and we respect it very much, but 195 countries have signed a deal on climate change, and there will be 195 different paths to meeting the Paris goals and honoring the agreement. And I am sure there is room for the U.S. administration to find its own path."

Trump has often said that there is no proof of global warming. But on Tuesday, the White House said that the president has again delayed the decision on whether he will follow the Paris agreement.

Divided viewpoints

His top officials have appeared divided over what to do about the deal.

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said Trump wants to have more discussions on the issue with his advisers.

"The president has been meeting with his team for quite a while on this matter, and he will not be making an announcement regarding that agreement until after he returns from the G7."

The G7 meeting of countries will take place later this month in Italy. Spicer said Trump is seeking advice from both economic and environmental viewpoints as he works to reach a decision.

The Paris accord was signed by former President Barack Obama. He supports environmental protection. At a meeting in Milan, Italy, on Tuesday, Obama said he believes the U.S. will move in the "right direction."

United States former President Barack Obama talks during the
United States former President Barack Obama talks during the "Seeds&Chips - Global Food Innovation" summit, in Milan, Italy, May 9, 2017.

"The good news is that in part because of what we did over the past eight years, the private sector has already made a determination that our future is in clean energy. Investments are already moving into clean energy."

Protests and political plans

Trump's views on climate change have led to protests. Environmental activists, scientists and average citizens marched in many cities in the U.S. and around the world last month to protest his positions.

A political group called 314 Action helps people with science and math backgrounds run for political office. The group reports that, since January, 5,000 people across the U.S. have said they want to run for public office to protect and support science research.

I'm Anne Ball.

Zlatica Hoke wrote this story for VOA News. Anne Ball wrote it for Learning English with information from the Associated Press. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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Words in This Story

put off – phrasal verb. to delay

greenhouse gases – n. harmful gases like carbon dioxide that absorb radiation and trap heat in the atmosphere, warming the planet

pull out – v. to withdraw

emission – n. the act of producing or sending out something (such as energy or gas) from a source

sector – n. an area of an economy : a part of an economy that includes certain kinds of jobs