Washington Post: U.S. teamed up with Russia, Saudi Arabia to weaken language supporting landmark climate report

WASHINGTON — The United States sided with Russia and Saudi Arabia over the weekend at a global climate summit to contest language supporting a landmark climate report, The Washington Post reports.

Arguments erupted at the summit on Saturday night, the Post reports, and the US joined a proposal to weaken a reference to the report put out by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which says governments around the world must take “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to avoid disastrous levels of global warming.

“There was going to be an agreement to welcome the . . . report,” Jake Schmidt, the managing director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s international program, told the Post. “The US wanted to note it, which is saying in essence that we know it’s out there but we have no comment.”

Nations are gathering for two weeks at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP24, to create a rulebook that will turn the 2015 Paris climate agreement into a reality.

The US is not sending senior officials, and instead a delegation of working-level staff is attending the meeting, as are representatives from US states and businesses.

Last week, CNN reported the Trump administration will reverse an Obama-era coal emissions rule as part of its effort to loosen restrictions on the coal industry. The decision came days after a new US government report delivered a dire warning about climate change and its devastating impacts, saying the economy could lose hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century.

Despite the report involving 13 federal agencies and more than 300 leading climate scientists, President Donald Trump told reporters: “I don’t believe it,” and added he had read “some” of the report.

At the G20 gathering in Argentina, 19 of the 20 leaders present signed a communique reaffirming their commitment to fight global warming, but Trump instead insisted a paragraph be included stating the US’s opposition to the communique and decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement.

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