A White House official said that the meeting was intended to be an informal discussion to help the Trump administration find a way to fulfill the president’s pledge to reduce emissions without harming the American economy.
President Trump declared in June that the United States would abandon the Paris agreement, which binds nearly 200 nations to promises of curbing heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions and helping vulnerable nations adapt to the ravages of extreme weather events.
Mr. Trump asserted the deal would hurt the domestic economy, and he continues to make that case. “In order to protect American industry and workers, we withdrew the United States from the job-killing Paris climate accord. Job killer. People have no idea. Many people have no idea how bad that was,” the president told a crowd in Bismarck, N.D., last week.
But in a letter submitted to the United Nations on Aug. 4, the administration hinted it might stay in the pact. The administration “intends to exercise its right to withdraw from the agreement,” the letter read, “unless the United States identifies suitable terms for re-engagement.”
Under the rules of the Paris agreement, no country can formally withdraw until November 2020.
So far no one in the Trump administration has defined what such terms might be, and it is unclear if countries will get answers next week.
Susan Biniaz, who was a legal adviser at the State Department for more than three decades before retiring this year, said the Cohn meeting would be a chance for the Trump administration to explain its position as well as for major trading partners to seek some common ground on energy and climate issues.
“I would think of this breakfast as an opportunity for other countries to show they are willing to engage in a discussion at least on issues of interest to the United States, and the United States to be clearer about what it considers suitable terms,” she said.
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