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Sanders, Perry spar over climate change
02:03 - Source: CNN

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Perry won't tell WH to "walk away" from Paris climate agreement

Senior WH officials are scheduled to meet to discuss the accord Thursday

Washington CNN  — 

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Tuesday he wouldn’t recommend the US pull out of the Paris climate accord – but instead would suggest the White House take steps to renegotiate the agreement.

Speaking at a Bloomberg event in New York, Perry said, “I’m not going to tell the President of the United States let’s just walk away from the Paris accord. But what I’m going to say is I think we probably need to renegotiate it, and they need to get serious about.”

President Donald Trump previously said he plans to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement – a 2015 accord that aims to limit global warming-causing gases and lets nations adjust their own emissions targets.

Trump pledged to “cancel” the accord on the 2016 campaign trail, calling the accord last October, “outdated, unnecessary, bad for workers or contrary to the national interest.”

Former President Barack Obama committed the US to the pledge, and 143 other countries have ratified or accepted it.

But the White House may now be reconsidering its stance on the agreement. Advisers to Trump will meet Thursday to discuss whether to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, a White House official told CNN. The meeting was originally planned for last week but was postponed.

Tuesday, Perry said that the agreement as it stands gives Germany too much flexibility, and they are not holding up their end of the bargain.

“The fact is their emissions have gone up because they are using more coal, and they are using coal that is not clean technologies,” said Perry.

Perry continued with his critique of Germany’s participation in the pact: “My point is, don’t sign an agreement and expect us to stay in an agreement if you’re not gonna really participate and be a part of it.”

In response to Perry’s comments, German environment ministry spokesman Michael Schroeren said the idea was “absurd.”

“That is, in the first place absurd, and secondly from the US point of view, completely unnecessary,” Schroeren said in a statement to Bloomberg. “The Paris accord is a dynamic accord. It allows signatory states much flexibility.”

Trump’s key advisers remain divided on the issue of climate change. Two distinct camps have formed within the administration along fault lines separating the anti-establishment wing from the more moderate wing of the White House.

On one side are chief strategist Steve Bannon and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who want the United States to back away from the agreement. Pruitt told “Fox & Friends:” “Paris is something that we really need to look at closely, because it’s something we need to exit in my opinion.”

On the other side is Secretary of State and former ExxonMobil head Rex Tillerson, who has argued the deal gives the United States an important seat at the table in international negotiations, and that withdrawing now could erode faith in US leadership, particularly with China and key allies in Europe.

CNN’s Laura Koran and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report