China and other nations are demanding answers from the Trump administration about how the United States will meet its short-term climate change goal under the Paris treaty process, as it abandons the Obama-era policies at the heart of its pledge.
The questions, blunt by diplomatic standards, are being posed by key players in the United Nations climate talks, and they come just as the White House confronts a politically charged decision over whether to stay in the Paris climate agreement.
Some in the administration favor keeping President Donald Trump‘s campaign promise to “cancel” the 2015 accord and others are arguing to keep what they call “a seat at the table.” A White House meeting to discuss that issue was scheduled for Tuesday, but then canceled.
Other countries, however, are wary of the administration’s waffling on the nation’s commitments.
Under a system of scrutiny and transparency established at the insistence of the U.S. to keep countries accountable for their commitments, the Obama administration in January submitted a report on its progress toward its 2020 targets. This included finalizing the federal Clean Power Plan, which would reduce power plant emissions, as well as funding for research and development of clean energy technologies. Those policies are now targeted for dismantling under Trump.
Now that report, called the Biennial Review, is being questioned by several countries intent on holding the Trump administration to account.
“I think countries see this as an opportunity to ferret the new administration’s intentions and test the United States’ commitment to full transparency going forward,” said Elliot Diringer, executive vice president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), a policy institute in Washington. “These are all legitimate and sensible questions in light of a change in government and a shift in policy.”
The questions were submitted to the UN by China, Brazil, Japan, the United Kingdom and the European Union in…