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Nov 16, 1:34 PM EST

Envoy says US to keep fighting greenhouse gas emissions


AP Photo
AP Photo/David Goldman

An interactive look at permafrost
UN Panorama
Arctic lands devastated by warming

BONN, Germany (AP) -- The United States is still committed to reducing greenhouse gas even though the Trump administration still plans to pull out of the Paris accord fighting global warming, the top U.S. representative at international climate talks told other delegates Thursday.

Britain and Canada, meanwhile, announced a new alliance aimed at encouraging countries to phase out the use of coal to curb climate change. Among others, the Global Alliance to Power Past Coal also includes Finland, France, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand and several U.S. states and Canadian provinces.

In closing remarks to the conference working out the technical details of the Paris climate accord, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the U.S. State Department's Judith Garber said "we remain open to the possibility of rejoining (the Paris climate deal) at a later date under terms more favorable to the American people."

Despite U.S. skepticism over the Paris accord, "the United States will continue to be a leader in clean energy and innovation, and we understand the need for transforming energy systems," said Garber, the acting assistant secretary of state for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs.

"We remain collectively committed to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions through, among other things, increased innovation on sustainable energy and energy efficiency, and working towards low greenhouse gas emissions energy systems," she said.

The talks are expected to end Friday.

While coal-fueled power stations are considered one of the biggest sources of carbon dioxide that's heating up the Earth's atmosphere, countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam and the United States are planning to expand their use of coal in the coming years. Even Germany and Poland, hosts of climate talks this year and next, are holding onto coal for the foreseeable future.

Garber did not mention the use of coal, but said as countries strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, each "will need to determine the appropriate energy mix based on its particular circumstances, taking into account the need for energy security, promotion of economic growth and environmental protection."

"In that context, we want to support the cleanest, most efficient power generation, regardless of source," she added.

In a private initiative announced Thursday, Storebrand, a Norwegian investment fund that manages assets worth over $80 billion, said it would pull investments from ten companies over their involvement in the coal sector.

Chief executive, Jan Erik Saugestad, said the decision is meant as a warning to utility companies to "clean up" their energy sources "or lose customers and investors."

The companies affected include German energy company RWE, Poland's PGE and Eskom Holdings of South Africa.

Storebrand said it hopes the much larger Norwegian Sovereign Wealth fund, which holds $1 trillion generated from the country's sale of oil, will follow its divestment decision.

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David Rising contributed from Berlin.

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