NEW YORK (Reuters) - Republican presidential contender Donald Trump said on Tuesday he would renegotiate America’s role in the U.N. global climate accord, spelling potential doom for an agreement many view as a last chance to turn the tide on global warming.
A pull-out by the world’s second biggest carbon-emitting country would hobble the deal reached in Paris last December by nearly 200 nations, who for the first time in more than two decades found a common vision for curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
"I will be looking at that very, very seriously, and at a minimum I will be renegotiating those agreements, at a minimum. And at a maximum I may do something else," the New York real estate mogul said in an interview with Reuters.
"But those agreements are one-sided agreements and they are bad for the United States."
Trump said he did not believe China, the world’s top emitter of the carbon dioxide gas that many scientists believe is contributing to global climate change, would adhere to its pledge under the Paris deal.
"Not a big fan because other countries don’t adhere to it, and China doesn’t adhere to it, and China’s spewing into the atmosphere," he said.
The accord to transform the world's fossil-fuel driven economy was a potent signal to investors.
It seeks to limit a rise in global temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius through combined national pledges to cut emissions, and provide funding for developing nations to mitigate the damaging effects of a sea level rise and climate change.
The Obama administration pledged a 26 to 28 percent domestic reduction in greenhouse gases by 2025 compared to 2005, while China promised it would halt increases in carbon emissions by 2030. Both countries have promised to ratify the deal this year.
Many U.S. Republicans have found fault with the deal for overreacting to what they see as an uncertain threat.
Former French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who helped broker the deal, said this month that the U.S. election was critical to its future. "If a climate change denier was to be elected, it would threaten dramatically global action against climate disruption," he said.
Trump has said that he believes global warming is a concept that was invented by China to hurt the competitiveness of U.S. business. One of his energy policy advisers is a climate change skeptic, U.S. Congressman Kevin Cramer of North Dakota.
Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic contender for the White House, has advocated shifting the country to 50 percent clean energy by 2030.
Trump's comment drew fire from environmental advocates.
"This is another example of Trump’s dangerous lack of judgment and the very real impacts it could have for all of us," said Gene Karpinski, president of the U.S.-based environmental group League of Conservation Voters.
"Trump's denunciation of the Paris climate accord is not only short sighted, but would be terribly costly for America and our ability to lead the world. We cannot go backwards on this important step towards a clean energy economy that benefits all our families," billionaire environmental financier Tom Steyer said in a statement.
The Paris agreement has an article built into it meant to protect countries in the accord in the event that a new government comes in and wants to dismantle it. The clause says any nation wanting to withdraw will first have to wait four years.
U.S. chief climate envoy Jonathan Pershing said last week that regardless of the outcome of the U.S. election, other countries were likely to be bound by the pact.
(Reporting by Emily Flitter and Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Ross Colvin and Tiffany Wu)