Trump stonewalls G-7 consensus on Paris pact

(From left) United States President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on the second day of the G-7 Summit in I
(From left) United States President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on the second day of the G-7 Summit in Italy yesterday.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

TAORMINA (Italy) • Group of Seven (G-7) nations yesterday were in an impasse over climate change as United States President Donald Trump rebuffed pressure to toe the collective line in the club of powerful democracies.

"I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!" Mr Trump tweeted, referring to the global pact on curbing carbon emissions that he vowed to jettison when campaigning for the White House.

The G-7 economies, in a closing summit statement that was issued yesterday, acknowledged that only six members were committed to upholding the 2015 accord, while the US continues to reflect on the matter, delegates said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who also crossed swords with Mr Trump on free trade at the G-7, complained that the US President was keeping his colleagues in the dark. "The whole discussion on the topic of climate was very difficult, not to say very unsatisfactory," she told reporters.

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"Here, we have a situation of six against one, meaning there is still no sign of whether the US will remain in the Paris accord or not," she said.

France also confirmed the stalemate. "The United States is evaluating its policy with regard to the climate, so the six other G-7 countries will reaffirm their commitment (to the Paris accord) while taking note" of the US position, a senior official told reporters.

Under Mr Trump, who once called climate change a "hoax" perpetrated by China, Washington has resisted intense pressure from its partners to commit to respecting the global 2015 accord on curbing carbon emissions. But Mr Gary Cohn, Mr Trump's economic adviser, last Friday said the President had told his G-7 colleagues that he regarded the environment as important.

"His views are evolving, he came here to learn," Mr Cohn said. "His basis for decision ultimately will be what's best for the United States."

The US is the world's biggest carbon emitter after China. Mr Trump had said he would listen to what US partners have to say at the G-7 before making a decision on how to proceed. Abandoning the Paris Agreement would carry a high political cost internationally, with Europe, Canada, China and Japan all strongly committed to the deal.

It would also be fiercely opposed at home by the environmental activists and by American corporations that are investing heavily in cleaner technology.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 28, 2017, with the headline 'Trump stonewalls G-7 consensus on Paris pact'. Print Edition | Subscribe