Pruitt rebuffs G-7 on climate

Source: Hannah Hess, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Trump administration bucked Group of Seven allies, refusing to endorse climate action in a statement on environmental priorities.

Ministers representing Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the European Union reaffirmed their “strong commitment to the swift and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement” as part of a 63-point communiqué developed during a two-day meeting in Italy.

U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who reportedly departed the meeting early, refused to sign sections related to climate change, multilateral development banks and support for implementation of climate finance pledges.

Pruitt joined his counterparts in committing to a 2030 agenda for sustainable development, sustainable finance, resource efficiency and marine litter.

A footnote in the 15-page document states the U.S. decision reflects President Trump’s June 1 announcement of his intent to withdraw and immediately cease implementation of the Paris accord and associated financial commitments.

It states: “We the United States of America continue to demonstrate through action, having reduced our CO2 footprint as demonstrated by achieving pre-1994 CO2 levels domestically.”

The footnote says the U.S. will continue to engage with key international partners in a manner “consistent with our domestic priorities, preserving both a strong economy and a healthy environment.”

Pruitt attended the first few hours of the summit yesterday but left to attend a Cabinet meeting in Washington.

The agency sent out a statement this morning announcing the U.S. “stands firm” on its decision to exit Paris and has “reset the conversation about climate change” to reflect new priorities and the “expectations of the American people.”

Pruitt said the U.S. delegation approached climate discussions “from a position of strength and clarity.” The statement touted common ground with G-7 counterparts regarding other, “equally important” environmental issues.

“We are resetting the dialogue to say Paris is not the only way forward to making progress. Today’s action of reaching consensus makes clear that the Paris Agreement is not the only mechanism by which environmental stewardship can be demonstrated,” Pruitt said.

“It also demonstrates our commitment to honest conversations, which are the cornerstone of constructive international dialogue,” he added.

Italian Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti said after the first day of the gathering that his country “and the overwhelming majority of countries regard Paris as irreversible and non-negotiable and the only instrument possible to combat climate change.” Galletti also said the other G-7 countries hoped to continue “constructive dialogue” with the U.S.

German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks told Bloomberg that Pruitt blamed President Obama for forging a bad deal in Paris and for failing to get approval from Congress for a $3 billion pledge for the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund.

Pruitt said the U.S. would continue to show leadership on the environment by offering “action-oriented solutions.” “We have indicated a willingness to engage on an international stage that stands to greatly benefit from American ingenuity, innovation, and advanced technologies,” he stated.

Environmentalists criticized the move.

“The administration continues the absurd charade that they are somehow going to renegotiate Paris when in fact all major nations have said that is a complete non-starter,” said Paul Bledsoe, a professorial lecturer at American University’s Center for Environmental Policy.

“The Trump team is not ‘resetting’ any international dialogue at all — all they are doing is isolating the U.S., reducing our credibility and limiting massive clean energy investment,” Bledsoe said in an email to E&E News.

“This just underscores the degree to which Trump and Pruitt have isolated the U.S. from other major developed countries,” said David Waskow, director of the International Climate Initiative at World Resources Institute.

“Other countries have already started turning to states like California for cooperation on key climate and energy issues, rather than the federal government,” Waskow said in an email.

Prior to his departure, Pruitt shared photos from meetings with environmental ministers from Japan and the United Kingdom. He also tweeted about delicious prosciutto and pasta.