Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry said he would rather renegotiate the 2015 Paris Climate Accord instead of leaving it entirely.
"I'm not going to say I'm going to go tell the President of the United States let's just walk away from Paris Accord," said Perry at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference in New York on Tuesday. "But what I'm going to say is I think we probably need to renegotiate it."
However, during a question-and-answer session, Perry accused countries in the European Union, such as Germany and France -- two big supporters of the landmark global pact to combat climate change -- for not following through on the agreement.
"I'm looking over at my friends from Germany and France and going, 'What are you all doing?'" Perry said. "The fact is that their emissions have gone up because they're using more coal and using coal that is not clean."
Perry claimed that International Energy Agency Director Fatih Birol said the U.S. and China were the two largest emissions cutters in the accord, which now boasts more than 150 members.
"Don't sign an agreement and then expect us to stay in an agreement if you're really not going to to participate and be a part of it," he said. "The United States has taken actions to affect in a positive way."
The energy secretary suggested that the accord's goals would be better suited by nations swapping coal for American-made liquified natural gas, a cleaner fossil fuel choice, which Trump economic advisers have embraced.
The Trump administration is reportedly still reviewing the non-legally binding accord. And it might have a final answer by late May for a G7 summit in Italy. During the 2016 presidential campaign, then-Republican candidate Donald Trump pledged to "cancel" the agreement.
White House leadership is divided on the issue. Ivanka Trump and her adviser-husband Jared Kushner have reportedly pushed the president toward keeping the U.S. involved, and former-Exxon Mobil CEO Secretary of State Rex Tillerson advocated in January for retaining a "seat at the table" in climate talks.
Critics of the deal include Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and White House adviser Steve Bannon. Pruitt, earlier in April, said the U.S. needed to "exit" the accord.
Administration officials planned to meet early last week about rendering a decision on the ambitious Obama-era deal, but ultimately, the meeting did not take place. White House Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it will happen on a later date.
Even if Mr. Trump decides to stay at the climate table, critics cite Mr. Trump's executive order in March, which ordered the EPA to revise President Obama's Clean Power Plan, as a detriment to meeting the accord's goal of slashing emissions by roughly 25 percent by 2025.