Trump Skips G7 Climate Meeting, Gives Nonsensical Explanation
“I feel the U.S. has tremendous wealth… I’m not going to lose that wealth on dreams, on windmills – which, frankly, aren’t working too well… I think I know more about the environment than most.”
President Trump skipped a meeting of international leaders to discuss climate change at the G7 summit in France on Monday, illustrating the widening gulf between the United States and other major countries in approaching the crisis.
The G7 summit, an annual meeting between the leaders of seven of the world’s biggest economies, took place in Biarritz, France over the weekend and concludes on Monday. Political leaders exchange ideas on global issues at the summit, and French President Emmanuel Macron put the climate crisis and mass extinction of biodiversity at the top of the weekend’s priorities.
The Amazon rainforest fires in Brazil were a focal point of the conversation. Macron announced that the leaders agreed upon an immediate, jointly funded $20 million package to fight the wildfires and begin a long-term global initiative to protect the Amazon. All G7 countries – the U.S., Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Britain and Canada – will contribute to the fund to help protect the Amazon.
The leaders discussed similar plans for the African nations of Angola and Congo, which have also faced intense wildfires in recent days.
The White House issued a statement to explain Trump’s conspicuous absence, saying: “The President had scheduled meetings and bilaterals with Germany and India, so a senior member of the Administration attended in his stead.”
Both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the climate summit, casting doubt on the administration’s excuse.
When asked about attending the climate meeting, Trump told reporters, “I’m going to. In fact, it’s going to be in a little while,” seemingly unaware that it had already taken place. After a reporter told Trump the meeting had just happened, the president replied, “I want clean air and clean water.”
According to the Guardian, White House officials believe Macron’s focus on environmental problems was an attempt to “embarrass his U.S. counterpart by making the summit focus on ‘niche issues’ such as climate change.” The president is the only member of the group who refuses to acknowledge the science attributing accelerated climate change to human-caused carbon emissions.
“It’s our view that with France trying to drive these other issues outside of global economics, national security and trade, they’re trying to fracture the G7,” one White House official told Politico.
The United States is a global outlier on climate change, with a recent report showing the country is projected to generate nearly two-thirds of the world’s new fossil fuel production over the next ten years. The Trump administration also recently rolled back endangered species protections, despite mass biodiversity loss.
Fearsome wildfires in the Amazon, unprecedented ice melting in Greenland, and record-breaking temperatures throughout the world have made most world leaders cognizant of the importance of addressing climate change. Last month was the hottest July in recorded history.
While Trump’s absence at the meeting demonstrated his administration’s refusal to cooperate with other countries on the climate crisis, Macron noted that members of Trump’s team attended.
At a joint press conference with President Macron after the event, Trump refused to acknowledge climate change, saying: “I feel the U.S. has tremendous wealth… I’m not going to lose that wealth on dreams, on windmills – which, frankly, aren’t working too well… I think I know more about the environment than most.”