As Donald Trump flew back to the United States, completing his first trip abroad as president, he left key allies waiting in exasperation on a decision over whether the United States will pull out of the Paris climate accord.
Despite Trump’s refusal to disclose where he stands on the treaty, the other G7 nations reaffirmed their strong commitment to the Paris accord, according to a communique released at the conclusion of the summit. The communique has a noticeably shorter “Climate and Energy” section than other portions on topics such as trade and security:
The United States of America 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 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, as previously stated at the Ise-Shima Summit.
Also noticeably absent was any mention of the G7’s prior commitment to end fossil fuel subsidies by the year 2025.
Top White House advisor Gary Cohn told reporters on Saturday more about Trump’s discussions about climate policy in an off-camera briefing:
There was a very frank exchange of views on climate. I think the president made it very clear that he’s spending time on the topic. He’s spending time on climate. He’s spending time on the Paris agreement. He’s not made a final decision on Paris. He continues to study, but he enjoyed talking to the G7 members about Paris and about their views on Paris. He thought it was a very constructive, very warm conversation with them. [He’s] very excited to have the experience…And he’s continuing to engage with the leaders.
Cohn had said on Friday that Trump’s views on climate were “evolving.”
Trump also tweeted before leaving Europe that he would made a decision on whether to stay in the Paris accord “next week.” He added an exclamation point, mirroring Cohn’s description that Trump was “very excited to have the experience” of talking to G7 leaders about Paris.
I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2017
German Chancellor Angela Merkel described Trump as the odd man out at the G7, according to Axios, and flagged climate policy as a key reason: “The whole discussion on the topic of climate was very difficult, not to say very unsatisfactory.”
Others signaled hope that the United States would remain in the accord.
“There is one open question, which is the U.S. position on the Paris climate accords. … All others have confirmed their total agreement on the accord,” Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said according to ABC News. “We are sure that after an internal reflection, the United States will also want to commit to it.”
French President Emanuel Macron said he viewed Trump as a “pragmatist” who would support the deal in the end, according to Reuters.
Earlier in the president’s trip, Pope Francis gave Trump a gift: a copy of Laudato Si’, the pope’s famous encyclical on the environment that was published in 2015. Trump is a climate denier, while the encyclical affirms that global warming has been confirmed by a “very consistent scientific consensus” and that humans are the cause.
Environmental groups in the United States, at this point running out of adjectives for the depressing state of this administration’s climate policy, did not mince words.
“Donald Trump should have learned this week that breaking our commitments under the Paris Agreement would be an unmitigated disaster for the United States,” Sierra Club Global Climate Policy Director John Coequyt said in a statement. “This choice should not be hard: uphold the Paris Agreement to take climate action, grow the economy, and protect U.S. communities or break our commitments to turn his back on economic success, American leadership, and the future of every family in our nation.”
“On the Paris Agreement on climate change, even though Donald Trump threw a tantrum, the grown-ups in the room ignored him,” Alex Doukas, senior campaigner at Oil Change International, said in a statement. “The G6 — the G7 minus Trump — fully recommitted to the Paris Agreement. Trump can try to block climate action all he wants, but he has no hope of stopping the global momentum to fight dangerous climate change and secure a clean and safe energy future.”
In the end, even if Trump decides to stay in the Paris accord, he has already made clear he will gut the Clean Power Plan, which is the primary mechanism by which the United States would keep its emissions reduction pledge. Those individual pledges are the only thing giving Paris any weight as a whole, and without strong domestic policies like the Clean Power Plan, the United States will fail to keep its commitments.