Macron fails to woo Trump on Paris accord

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, April 25, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to make little headway in climate discussions with President Trump today despite a firm show of friendship.

Smiling amid awkward handshakes, embraces and kisses, Trump and Macron pushed to underscore a strong alliance but seemed to end up far apart on the Paris climate accord, the Iran nuclear agreement, the conflict in Syria, and U.S. tariffs on products like steel and aluminum.

Before heading into a private meeting with Macron this morning, Trump told reporters the two leaders would likely discuss the international climate pact.

And the French president said on the South Lawn before meeting privately with Trump that the United States and France would “act effectively for our planet” to tackle not only climate change but also ocean health, biodiversity and pollution.

But as the afternoon wrapped up, Macron revealed that he and Trump remained far apart on the Paris Agreement. And Trump remained noticeably silent when Macron said French scientists and businesses are working hand in hand to address climate change.

“We also talked about the climate, and here, also, we know where we stand, that France will continue to work on major pieces, including the global compact for the environment,” Macron said at a formal joint news conference in the East Room, where he addressed reporters’ questions alongside Trump.

“But I think I can say our economic, our businesses, our researchers can continue to work on concrete solutions in the field, and we are both attached to that,” Macron said.

Observers said Macron, who has blasted Trump publicly for exiting the Paris accord, may be playing the only card he has — technology.

“I think it’s his only move,” said Paul Bledsoe, a strategic adviser for the Progressive Policy Institute. “He needs to engage with Trump where he’ll engage, and the administration will engage on low-emissions technology that’s in the U.S. interest.”

Those technologies include U.S. exports of domestic natural gas and potentially nuclear technology given France’s long history of prowess in the nuclear sector and reprocessing used nuclear fuel, Bledsoe said.

The Trump administration is also trying to commercialize technology to capture and sequester carbon, Bledsoe said, noting that Energy Secretary Rick Perry has been increasingly talking about the issue.