Feb 28, 2017

UN lacks "clear signals" from Trump on Paris climate deal

The Trump administration is keeping the United Nations in the dark, at least so far, when it comes to the future of U.S. participation in the global climate accord struck in Paris in 2015.

We have not heard any clear signals. Of course the U.S. is a party to the agreement, so we continue to see the U.S. as the very important partner that it is to us. — Patricia Espinosa, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to reporters in Washington on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The absence of clear information to the U.N. is another sign that Trump isn't ready to follow through on his campaign pledge to end U.S. participation in the deal—at least for now.

The Bonn, Germany-based Espinosa said shortly before her current trip to the U.S. that she was seeking a meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson here, but said Tuesday that it wasn't happening. Still, she carefully declined to cast it as a snub from the Trump administration.

"They were … just looking at the possibility, but it was not confirmed," Espinosa told reporters at Georgetown University ahead of Tuesday afternoon lecture. "There are so many commitments that high-level officials have." She said the dates of her visit were timed around her lecture.

What's Next? Espinosa said onstage that the uncertainty around U.S. plans has not prompted other nations to pull back on their commitments under the carbon emissions pact that's aimed at preventing the most dangerous levels of global warming.

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In photos: How coronavirus is impacting cities around the world

Revellers take part in the "Plague Doctors Procession" in Venice on Tuesday night during the usual period of the Carnival festivities, most of which have been cancelled following the coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy. Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP via Getty Images

The novel coronavirus has spread from China to infect people in more than 40 countries and territories around the world, killing over 2,700 people.

The big picture: Most of the 80,000 COVID-19 infections have occurred in mainland China. But cases are starting to surge elsewhere. By Wednesday morning, the worst affected countries outside China were South Korea (1,146), where a U.S. soldier tested positive to the virus, Italy (332), Japan (170), Iran (95) and Singapore (91). Just Tuesday, new cases were confirmed in Switzerland, Croatia and Algeria.

Debate night: Candidates' last face-off before Super Tuesday

Sanders, Biden, Klobuchar and Steyer in South Carolina on Feb. 25. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders wanted to keep his momentum after winning contests in New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hoped to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates were just trying to hang on.

What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination were in Charleston, South Carolina, for the tenth debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday. They spoke, sometimes over each other, about health care, Russian interference in the election, foreign policy the economy, gun control, marijuana, education, and race.

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4 takeaways from the South Carolina debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden, right, makes a point during Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders listens. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The 10th Democratic debate was billed as the most consequential of the primary thus far, but Tuesday night's high-stakes affair was at times awkward and unfocused as moderators struggled to rein in candidates desperate to make one last splash before Saturday's primary in South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

The big picture: After cementing himself as the Democratic favorite with a sweeping win in Nevada, Sen. Bernie Sanders came under fire as the front-runner for the first time on the debate stage. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will be on the ballot for the first time next Tuesday, was a progressive foil once again, but he appeared more prepared after taking a drubbing at the Nevada debate.