EU, China back climate pact after Trump pullout

President Trump announced the withdrawal Thursday

Climate Protesters
Protesters gather outside the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 1, 2017, to protest President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the Unites States from the Paris climate change accord. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

BRUSSELS (AP) — Top officials from China and the European Union were set Friday to reaffirm their commitment to a landmark climate change agreement, a day after President Donald Trump said he was pulling the United States out of the Paris accord.

Climate issues were expected to dominate discussions between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who is leading a large delegation of ministers to Brussels, and EU Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Speaking to European business leaders alongside Li, Juncker said EU-China ties are underpinned by “a rules-based international system.”

Brussels and Beijing believe in “the full implementation, without nuances, of the Paris climate agreement,” Juncker said, and underlined that there can be “no backsliding.”

In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted that the U.S. withdrawal won’t prevent the rest of the world from pressing ahead with efforts to curb global warming.

“Nothing can and will stop us from doing so,” she said in a brief statement to reporters.

Merkel, whose country hosts this year’s international climate summit, said Trump’s decision was “extremely regrettable and that’s putting it very mildly.”

At their short summit, the EU and China — two of the world’s major polluters — are set to reaffirm their stance on global warming.

According to a draft, they will express their determination “to forge ahead with further policies and measures for effective implementation of their respective nationally determined contributions.”

European heavyweights France, Germany and Italy said in a joint statement on Thursday that they regretted Trump’s decision to withdraw from the accord, while affirming their “strongest commitment” to implement its measures.

While Trump said the United States would be willing to rejoin the accord if it could obtain more favorable terms, the three European leaders said the agreement cannot be renegotiated, “since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economics.”

Germany’s environment minister, Barbara Hendricks, told reporters in Berlin that other countries will fill the leadership vacuum but none will be expected to make up the shortfall in emissions reductions caused by Washington’s exit.

Hendricks said the absence of $500 million contributions from the United States to the Green Climate Fund will be felt from 2018, but suggested the gap could be filled with “other financing mechanisms, for example through the World Bank.”

The Green Fund is designed to help poor countries adapt to climate change and bypass some of the heavily polluting technologies formerly used by rich countries.

Poor countries are predicted to be among the hardest hit by global warming, with some predicting tens of millions of “climate refugees” in coming decades.

The leader of the country to next hold the rotating presidency of the European Union called Trump’s decision “very bad, very negative.”

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas told The Associated Press that the Paris accord “was, and still is a very important goal to achieve.”

Estonia takes over the rotating six-month presidency from Malta at the end of the month.

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Jordans contributed to this report from Berlin. Raf Caser contributed from Tallinn, Estonia.