Further isolating the United States as other world powers prepare to take on the crisis of climate change, President Donald Trump refused to commit to the landmark Paris Climate Agreement as the remaining G7 leaders reaffirmed their determination to implement the accord.
In what has been described as an "unusually frank statement," the G7 Taormina Leaders' Communiqué (pdf) released Saturday after the two-day meeting in Sicily, says that the U.S. 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."
"Understanding this process," the document continues, "the heads of state and of government of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom and the presidents of the European Council and of the European Commission reaffirm their strong commitment to swiftly implement the Paris Agreement."
Meanwhile, Trump took to Twitter to announce that he would "make a final decision on the Paris Accord next week," but it was clear the U.S. president had been a substantial roadblock over the course of the summit.
"The entire discussion about climate was very difficult, if not to say very dissatisfying," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters on Saturday. "There are no indications whether the United States will stay in the Paris Agreement or not."
On those deliberations, The Guardian reported:
During the two-day conclave in Taormina, other leaders repeatedly urged Trump to recognize that as world's second biggest carbon emitter, the U.S. had to show leadership on climate issues.
Leaders warned the U.S. president that he risks a stampede, as others in the 195-nation agreement use American withdrawal from the treaty to reduce their own commitments.
Trump retained the option of pulling out of the treaty altogether or, more likely, scaling back on the specific commitments made by the Obama administration. Obama pledged to cut domestic greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 % below 2005 levels by 2025.
While not surprised, environmental groups expressed dismay over Trump's recalcitrance.
The truncated six-page document (compared with last year's 32-page tome), which outlines the industrialized nations' top priorities, "offered only minimal language on climate change and energy," the Union of Concerned Scientists noted.
Alden Meyer, a leading expert on the United Nation's international climate negotiations process and director of strategy and policy with the organization, said that 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, Meyer continues, "he stands in stark isolation, as the leaders from Europe, Canada, and Japan have made it crystal clear they intend to fully implement their national commitments under the Paris Agreement and pursue efforts to decarbonize the global economy."
More concisely, Alex Doukas, senior campaigner at Oil Change International, said: "even though Donald Trump threw a tantrum, the grown-ups in the room ignored him."
However, Doukas did note that the group stopped short of reaffirming their commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2025.
"G7 leaders caved in the face fossil fuel cronyism, and were silent on their prior commitment to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025—despite this language being agreed at the meeting of G7 energy ministers in April," Doukas said.
"Subsidizing fossil fuel companies in the face of rapid climate change is like spraying jet fuel on a burning home. To put out the fire, we must first stop making the problem worse," Doukas continued. "Ignoring the problem just because fossil fuel industry mascots like Trump demand it is like agreeing to take the warning labels off of cigarettes because they offend Joe Camel. Our leaders must act now to stop burning our tax dollars and stop trashing the climate."
In addition to stymying action on fossil fuels, Trump also reportedly "forced the Italian prime minister Paulo Gentiloni—the summit host—to shred plans for an ambitious statement stressing the plight of migrants was a global rather than regional responsibility," the Guardian reported.
One unnamed European diplomat told the Independent that "[t]here was very strong opposition by the Americans and British who wanted to refocus on security and water down the expansive language on freedom of movement."
Opening up borders was one of the primary demands of the protesters who rallied on the streets of the Italian resort community on Saturday. Thousands of peaceful activists marched and carried signs, that included phrases like "Freedom, not Frontex," referring to the European Union's draconian border control agency.
Instead, the groups settled on language committing to fighting "protectionism" through trade and terrorism, as well as vowing to impose additional sanctions against Russia if warranted.
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