The top United Nations climate change official continues to wait for a response to her request to meet with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson over whether America will remain in the landmark Paris environmental accord.
Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, asked for a sitdown with Tillerson before leaving for a visit to the US this week. In an interview Wednesday, she said she’d heard nothing from the State Department in return.
Speaking at a climate change conference in Chicago, Espinosa said: “I have not heard back. It is understandable at the beginning of an administration.
“They are a very important partner to us, and I’m looking forward to working together.”
A State Department spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.
During her remarks in Chicago, Espinosa urged an audience of business executives to voluntarily reduce emissions and set the tone for politicians who are reluctant to enact aggressive environmental policies. The event drew executives from some of the largest US companies, including General Motors Co., United Continental Holdings Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co.
She said: “Policy makers must hear that action is happening.
“They need to have confidence that this action will back their decisions.”
Espinosa didn’t mention by name President Donald Trump, who vowed during the recent US election campaign to exit the agreement but later said he would keep an open mind. Asked last week about his plans for the accord, a White House spokesman said Trump and Tillerson were discussing the matter.
Espinosa, who is based in Bonn, took over in May as executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and oversees the process of implementing the Paris agreement, which was brokered in 2015 by 195 nations.
The accord, broader than any previous climate agreement, calls for reducing pollution in hopes of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above temperatures at the outset of the industrial revolution.
Environmental groups have warned of dire consequences if the US abandons the Paris Accord. As the richest nation and the second-largest polluter, US efforts are central to keeping climate change from hitting an irreversible tipping point, unleashing catastrophic floods, droughts and storms, scientists say.