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Still time to convince U.S. of benefits of Paris climate accord: McKenna


Published on September 13, 2017

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna answers a question during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Thursday, March 23, 2017. McKenna says there is still time to convince the United States not to withdraw from the Paris climate change accord and an unexpected meeting scheduled for New York next week might be the first step in that direction. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says there is still time to convince the United States not to withdraw from the Paris climate change accord and an unexpected meeting scheduled for New York next week might be the first step in that direction.

McKenna is one of about a dozen environment and climate ministers from the world's largest economies who were invited by White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn to discuss climate at a breakfast in New York during the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

The meeting is likely to overshadow a Paris accord meeting in Montreal this weekend, which was scheduled partly as a way to forge a path with new leaders on the climate file as the U.S. takes a step back during the administration of President Donald Trump.

The U.S. is sending officials to the Montreal meeting instead of Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt, who doesn't support Paris and helped convince Trump to signal his intent to withdraw from the accord in June.

McKenna said her understanding is that Pruitt is also not expected at the breakfast meeting, but wouldn't say if she thinks this is a sign the White House is rethinking climate change in terms of economics, particularly as the U.S. grapples with the economic devastation wreaked by two massive hurricanes which hit Texas and Florida in recent weeks.

The Paris accord signed in 2015 commits the vast majority of countries in the world to act against climate change and the Trudeau government has argued that climate action goes hand in hand with economic growth.

The Canadian Press