x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 October 2017

Climate change? Let me think about it, Trump tells G7

President Donald Trump on Saturday said he would take another week to decide whether the United States would abide by the 2015 Paris agreement on cutting global carbon emissions.

US President Donald Trump making his point to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi at the G7 Summit expanded session in Taormina, Sicily, Italy on May 27, 2017. Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
US President Donald Trump making his point to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi at the G7 Summit expanded session in Taormina, Sicily, Italy on May 27, 2017. Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

TAORMINA. ITALY // President Donald Trump on Saturday said he would take another week to decide whether the United States would abide by the 2015 Paris agreement on cutting global carbon emissions.

The unexpected announcement came as a summit of G7 leaders in Sicily ended up in deadlock on the issue, with US partners voicing frustration at the president’s failure to commit to the deal aimed at stemming global warming.

“I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!” Mr Trump tweeted.

The US leader, concluding his first overseas trip in office, was due to fly home later Saturday without giving the customary close-of-summit press conference.

The meeting’s final declaration reflected a stalemate between the US and the six other participating countries, which are all strongly committed to the Paris accord.

“The United States of America is in the process of reviewing its policies on climate change and on the Paris Agreement and thus is not in a position to join the consensus on these topics,” it said.

German chancellor Angela Merkel admitted her discussion with Mr Trump had been “a very difficult, not to say very unsatisfactory ... meaning there is still no sign of whether the US will remain in the Paris accord or not,” she said.

Other delegates concurred that it was “six against one” at the gathering of leading democracies spanning North America, Europe and Japan.

French President Emmanuel Macron struck a more positive note, saying the talks had been useful with “a real discussion and exchange of views. ”

Under Mr Trump, who once called climate change a “hoax” perpetrated by China, Washington has resisted intense pressure to commit to respecting the global 2015 accord on curbing carbon emissions.

But Gary Cohn, the president’s economic adviser, said the president had told his G7 colleagues that he regarded the environment as important.

The United States produces the most carbon emissions of any country apart from China.

Abandoning the Paris agreement would carry a high political cost internationally and face fierce opposition at home in the US from environmental activists and American corporations that are investing heavily in cleaner technology.

Greenpeace regretted the outcome but held out hope that Trump might change tack.

Iain Keith, campaign director of Avaaz, an activist network, said: “Today, G6 leaders put our planet first, showing that even the US president cannot stop the inevitable clean energy revolution. Trump’s attempts to derail global climate action won’t make America great, it will only make America late.”

* Agence France-Presse