QUIT PARIS PACT?
Leaders growing weary of US’s flip-flops in cutting greenhouse gas emissions, write and
PRESIDENT Donald Trump declined to endorse the Paris climate accords on Saturday. He refused to bend on the pact after three days of contentious private debate and intense lobbying by other leaders that began on Wednesday with an appeal by Pope Francis.
The six other nations in the Group of 7 reaffirmed their commitment to cutting greenhousegas emissions in a joint statement issued on Saturday.
The stalemate leaves the country’s future role in the climate accord in flux, although Trump promised to make a decision in the week ahead on whether the United States will be the first of 195 signatories to pull out.
Trump left Italy on Saturday afternoon after a nine-day trip to the Middle East and Europe.
The climate accord was the most vivid sign of division between the US and its allies.
“There was a lot of give-andtake between the countries in the room,” said Gary D. Cohn, director of the National Economic Council.
But he insisted that the other countries understood Trump’s refusal to decide now, even if they did not support that position.
“The president’s only been in office for a certain period of time, and they respect that,” Cohn said.
He added: “We’re all allies. We’re all trying to get to the right place and be respectful of each other.”
While Trump’s decision was not a surprise, the reaction was swift and critical.
“President Trump’s continued waffling on whether to stay in or withdraw from the Paris Agreement made it impossible to reach consensus at the Taormina summit on the need for ambitious climate action. But he stands in stark isolation,” said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
The leaders of Germany and France expressed disappointment, according to The Associated Press.
“The whole discussion about climate was very difficult, not to say unsatisfactory,” Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said.
“There’s a situation where it’s six — if you count the European Union, seven — against one.”
President Emmanuel Macron of France said he had told Trump it was “indispensable for the reputation of the US and for the Americans themselves that the Americans remain committed” to the climate agreement.
The G7 statement provides the US more time to resolve internal White House debates about whether to pull out of the pact.
It says the US 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”.
The president did not mention the impasse in his only public remarks after the summit to US troops at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily.
“We hit a home run no matter where we are,” he said.
For Trump, however, the lack of a decision on the climate accord put an uncertain ending on an ambitious first presidential trip abroad that began as a respite from the surfeit of scandal at home.
In a message on Twitter on Saturday, he said: “I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!”
There is an intense debate inside the West Wing over whether to withdraw from the accord or to try to renegotiate its terms, pitting hardline nationalists, like chief strategist Steve Bannon, against more mainstream advisers like Cohn.
On Thursday, Cohn told reporters that Trump’s thinking on the subject was “evolving”.
But other senior officials said even if the US remained in the agreement, it could effectively gut its principles.
The exit of the US, the world’s second largest greenhouse gas emitter after China, would not immediately dissolve the pact, which was negotiated under president Barack Obama and legally ratified last year.
But it would profoundly weaken the strength of the deal and pave the way for other countries to withdraw from it.
Some climate diplomats said the rest of the world was growing weary of America’s back-andforth on climate change policy.
In 1997, the US joined the world’s first climate treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, but later withdrew during the Bush administration.
“At some juncture, other countries are going to get sick of us joining in, pulling out, joining in and pulling out and say, ‘Are we really going to work with the US on this any more?'” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton.
US President Donald Trump (fourth from left) speaking during a meeting of G7 leaders in Taormina, Italy, on Saturday.