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G-7 Talks Leave Pruitt and USA as Climate Change 'Footnote'

13 Juin 2017

In Italy over the weekend, McKenna met with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, and said she "made it clear that the Paris Agreement is not open for renegotiation". The draft statement asked member countries to sign off on their continued commitment to the global pact to fight climate change, the report said. "It was very sad to see the United States was relegated to a footnote on climate action". Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland argued in a seminal speech to the House of Commons that Canada can no longer rely on the USA for global leadership. It "will continue to engage with key worldwide partners in a manner that is consistent with our domestic priorities, preserving both a strong economy and a healthy environment".

"The only legal framework for climate negotiations is the accord and objectives fixed in Paris and there is no doubt that they are irreversible", said Hulot, a former TV star and a longstanding environmental campaigner who was persuaded to enter government by new French President Emmanuel Macron.

A communiqué released Monday included a statement that the environment ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and European commissioners responsible for climate "reaffirm strong commitment to the swift and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement".

But Der Spiegel reported that Trudeau suggested to Merkel that the planned G20 communiqué could be limited to energy issues, without mentioning the Paris Agreement.

As a result, the USA said it would not join those sections of the communique on climate and multilateral development banks. Any new USA administration could rejoin within 30 days, Kerry said.

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The 2015 accord, backed by almost 200 countries, aims to limit global warming to 2 degrees or less by 2100, mainly through pledges to cut carbon dioxide and emissions.

The U.S. did participate in other aspects of the 15-page statement on sustainable development and private sector financing of climate change adaptation. He has said the USA could try to re-enter the deal under more favorable terms, but the European Union - and in particular Italy, France and Germany - have said the Paris accord cannot be renegotiated.

A two-day ministerial meeting of the Group of Seven (G7) nations ended in the northern Italian city of Bologna on Monday, confirming the split between the United States and its six major allies on climate change. Rather, it says that the accord is "the global instrument for effectively and urgently tackling climate change and adapting to its effects". However, the U.S. President announced the withdrawal four days later.

France's environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, said he hoped many countries would follow France's lead in scaling up their pledges and accelerating the timetable on implementing Paris benchmarks in response to the US withdrawal.

"Let us make sure that Europe takes its part in this economic opportunity", he said.