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UN environment chief: US could meet Paris goals despite Trump

UN environment chief: US could meet Paris goals despite Trump
© Greg Nash

The head of the United Nations’ environmental office said Tuesday that he expects the United States to live up to its commitments under the Paris climate deal despite President Trump’s plan to pull out of the agreement.

Erik Solheim, the director of the U.N. Environment Program, said the U.S. could achieve its goals because “all the big American companies are dedicated to go in the green direction,” The Associated Press reports.

He added, that, despite Trump, “at the end of the day ... the private sector and business are now driving the agenda” in the United States.

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Solheim’s comments came as the United Nations released a new report calling on the world’s nations to do more to tackle climate change.

The report concluded the greenhouse gas reduction goals established in the Paris deal are only one-third of what is necessary to keep the Earth from warming by more than 2 degrees Celsius. That’s the level at which scientists believe the worst effects of climate change will kick in, and the Paris agreement aims to prevent that much warming.

Trump in June said he would pull the United States out of the Paris deal, under which the Obama administration had pledged a 26 percent to 28 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Trump can’t formally take the U.S. out of the deal until 2020 at the earliest.

Many large American businesses, including some energy firms, pushed Trump to stay in the agreement rather than pull the U.S. out, calling climate change a threat and promising to reduce emissions on their own.