US refuses to sign G7 Paris climate accord pledge

Together with the pledges made by a growing coalition of US mayors, governors, business leaders and others to meet America's Paris commitments without him, the meeting highlights President Trump's increasing isolation on climate and clean energy issues, both at home and overseas.

In an approximately 20-minute discussion with Canadian environment minister Catherine McKenna on Saturday night, McKenna asked Pruitt about the US approach on Paris going forward.

Almost 150 countries, including Canada, have ratified the Paris Agreement which calls for action to reduce pollution that traps heat in the atmosphere and to help developing countries adapt to climate change and cope with threats to their survival. Together, we can ensure the USA and the world stays on track.

The top USA official at the meeting, Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, left the meeting after only few hours of one-on-one talks held with his counterparts from Germany, Japan, and Britain.

"I believe engaging in global discussion is of the utmost importance to the United States when it comes to environmental issues", he said in the statement.

McKenna also said that all G7 members except the U.S. - France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union - inked a statement at the meeting that expressed their joint commitment to the "swift and effective implementation of the Paris agreement".

Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was at the meeting for a mere five hours before coming back to the United States for what officials said was a Cabinet meeting at the White House according to Bloomberg BNA. The Democrats, on the other hand, are seen introducing more aggressive climate action plans that weren't even likely to be considered, had the president decided on staying with the Pairs agreement.

Pruitt left early to attend Trump's first full cabinet meeting on Monday.

"G7 countries have crucial roles and responsibilities to our own public opinion, to developing countries and to the planet", Italy's Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti said at the start of a two-day meeting of G7 environmental chiefs.

The UN official in charge of implementing the Paris accord, Patricia Espinosa, stressed that Trump's pullout would not make any difference in the short-term.

And, as Jonah Busch, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, pointed out, withdrawing from the Paris Agreement is only one of several counterproductive things the Trump administration is doing on the issue.

Under Obama's benchmarks set in the 2015 Paris agreement, The U.S. had vowed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26% to 28% by 2025.

Scientists warn that the alternative is unprecedented devastation as sea levels rise and extreme storms, droughts and heatwaves becoming more common, endangering crops and fragile environments with knock-on effects in the form of new conflicts and mass movements of people escaping affected areas.

  • Zachary Reyes