Top Trump aide to lead climate talks at UN

Meeting comes ahead of next week's assembly in NYC

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Gary Cohn, the embattled head of President Trump's National Economic Council, will host international officials for a breakfast focused on climate and environmental issues ahead of next week's United Nations General Assembly, a person familiar with his plans said.

The meeting, set for Monday, will come ahead of Trump's major address to the UN, his first as president.

Cohn, a top aide who recently fell from the President's good graces, has invited more than a dozen ministers of energy and environment to the session, which will focus both on climate issues and other areas, like reducing emissions while maintaining productivity and profitability.

Leaders who received invites hail from large economy nations, though it's not yet clear who has decided to attend.

A second person familiar with the meeting said the intention is to keep the conversation informal among the group.

Trump angered fellow world leaders when he announced the US would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, a deal brokered within a United Nations framework in 2015. Cohn was among the White House officials arguing against withdrawal from the pact, though he ultimately lost out to arguments from other senior aides, including then-chief strategist Steve Bannon.

The meeting next week in New York was first reported by The New York Times.

Cohn, a Democrat and former chief operating officer at Goldman Sachs, was once among Trump's most trusted aides. But he fell from the President's favor after criticizing Trump's response to white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

He was once a leading pick to become chairman of the Federal Reserve, though officials told CNN his comments about Charlottesville had dimmed his chances.

The meeting on climate change comes as the Trump administration confronts a rash of severe storms that some scientists attribute to warming sea temperatures. The White House has refused to entertain that notion, saying the President's focus remains on an efficient federal disaster response.

Trump's homeland security adviser Tom Bossert told reporters on Monday that he was not positioned to determine the "causality" of the two storms, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

"We continue to take seriously climate change -- not the cause of it, but the things that we observe," Bossert said.

And in an exclusive interview before Hurricane Irma hit Florida, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said it's not the time to talk about climate change.

"To have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm; versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced," Pruitt told CNN, adding that it's "insensitive" to the people of Florida to focus on climate change at the moment.


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