Trump distances himself from climate change commitments

30 May 17

US president Donald Trump has steered away from commitments on limiting climate change reaffirmed over the weekend by other wealthy economies.


Angela Merkel, German chancellor. Shutterstock 579778795

German chancellor Angela Merkel made her disappointment with Trump's divergence from the rest of the group's stance clear following the meeting.


Members of the G7 – the US, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Japan – met in Sicily on 26 and 27 May, where they discussed global issues related to foreign policy, the economy, equality, trade and the Paris climate deal, agreed by almost 200 nations in December 2015.

The group issued its communiqué on the talks on Saturday, with a paragraph dedicated to the US’s inability to “join the consensus” on the landmark deal to cut global emissions and limit temperature rises pending a review of its policies on climate change.



Instead, Trump chose to pit the US against its close allies for now in order to have more time to decide whether to endorse the accord.

He had threatened to pull the US out of the agreement during his presidential campaign, at times suggesting climate change was a “hoax”, and has already moved to nullify Obama-era policies to shift the US away from coal power.  

The US’s commitments under the Paris deal would restrict Trump’s ambition of revitalising American industry, especially with regards to coal.

His stance resulted in a terse par on the issue, which had previously warranted more than a page. But this theme ran through the whole document, which was just six pages compared to 32 last year.

The meeting in Italy was characterised by discord on a number of issues, not only climate change.

Trump’s position has also diverged from that of his European counterparts on Russia, NATO and trade, sewing dissonance on what had once been long-settled issues.

While this was obvious in the group’s communiqué, the clearest indication of the split came from German chancellor Angela Merkel, whose comments following the meeting evidenced a clear view that Europe’s alliances were not as dependable as they had been in the past.

“The times in which we could fully rely on others – they are somewhat over,” she said. “This is what I experienced in the last few days.”

Describing the talks as “six against one” and “very difficult”, she said Europe must take its destiny into its own hands.

One area that the group’s six more united members seem to have chipped away at Trump’s core principles is on trade, with a commitment to “fight protectionism” making it in to the document.

In other such communiqués issued since Trump’s inauguration, this has been removed where it has previously appeared.

On the economy, the group said boosting global growth was its “top priority” and agreed on the importance of improving the quality of the public finances, including by prioritising high-quality investment such as on infrastructure.

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