WASHINGTON The chief executive of U.S. coal mining company Cloud Peak Energy urged President Donald Trump in a letter on Thursday to help shape global climate policies by keeping the United States in the Paris climate accord.
Cloud Peak and other oil and coal companies have recently expressed support for a U.S. role in the deal, despite Trump's campaign pledge to withdraw. They have said the accord is the best forum for protecting their global interests.
The deal, agreed by nearly 200 countries in Paris in 2015, seeks to limit planetary warming by cutting emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases from burning fossil fuels. The United States committed to reducing its emissions by between 26 percent and 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
"By remaining in the Paris Agreement, albeit with a much different pledge on emissions, you can help shape a more rational international approach to climate policy," Cloud Peak CEO Colin Marshall wrote in the letter dated April 6.
The letter said Trump could use America's place in the accord to help ensure international partners preserve funding for coal-fired utility projects overseas and support technologies to reduce and capture emissions.
"Without U.S. leadership, the failed international policies that have characterized the past 25 years will continue to predominate," he wrote. "Addressing climate concerns need not be a choice between prosperity or environment."
During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump vowed to pull the United States out of the Paris pact, tapping into concern among his fellow Republicans that the United Nations would police U.S. energy habits.
But since being elected, he has been mostly quiet on the issue. Recently, administration officials have been asking energy companies for advice.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said last week the administration expected to decide whether to remain a party to the deal by the time leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy nations meet in late May.
Trump has aggressively cut U.S. green regulations at home, including an executive order last week targeting former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan to cut emissions from power plants.
Trump said the move would create jobs and boost domestic energy production, but power companies surveyed by Reuters said the order would not change their plans to shut coal plants.
Cloud Peak's Marshall said in his letter that Trump could encourage U.S. utilities to stick with coal by renewing and expanding U.S. tax incentives for carbon capture and storage technology, and providing government funding for research into lower-emissions coal technology.
(Writing by Richard Valdmanis)