When world leaders meet behind closed doors, the results of their decisions are announced, but the details of their conversations are rarely made public.
As leaders from the G7 nations – Germany, France, Canada, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US – convened in Taormina, Sicily from May 26 to May 28, it was widely reported that the Paris climate agreement would be a primary focus of discussions, after US President Donald Trump had vowed to pull the US out of the international pact to reduce man-made climate change.
Other leaders were careful with how they spoke to Trump, worried they might anger him and provoke him into a reactionary response, the New York Times reported. Ultimately, they failed to convince him.
Now, notes from the meeting, leaked to the German news outlet Der Spiegel, provide a more specific account of the conversation.
Newly-elected French president, Emmanuel Macron, led the pitch. According to the report, he made a humanitarian plea.
“Climate change is real and it affects the poorest countries,” he said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke second, reminding Trump how successful climate change policies have been in repairing the hole in the ozone layer and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel then presented the Paris agreement as an opportunity for the US to be a global leader in pursuing sustainable energy, and warned that another world power – one that Trump has accused of working to undermine the US economy – would take advantage if the US left the agreement.
“If the world’s largest economic power were to pull out, the field would be left to the Chinese,” she said, adding that Saudi Arabia was also investing in renewables.
But no reason – humanitarian, environmental, or economic – could change Trump’s mind.
Trump actually claimed that backing away from the agreement was a bigger undertaking than remaining.
“For me,” Trump said, “it’s easier to stay in than step out.”
Days after the G7 summit, in the White House Rose Garden, Trump announced he was pulling the US out of the Paris climate agreement, dealing a major blow to the greatest international climate change effort that’s ever been devised.
The US is the world’s largest economy and second-largest greenhouse gas polluter. By pulling out, the entire agreement could unravel.
Syria and Nicaragua are the only other countries who haven’t signed the Paris agreement. The former has been embroiled in a catastrophic civil war since 2011. Nicaragua, meanwhile, already produces more than half of its energy from renewable sources and plans to increase the mark to 90% by 2020. For the Central American nation, the Paris Agreement didn’t go far enough.
Thus, Trump stands alone in refusing to observe the Paris Climate Agreement under the pretenses that it’s harmful to the US economy.
“I am willing to immediately work with Democratic leaders to negotiate our way back into Paris on terms that are fair for the US and its workers,” Trump said. “Or to negotiate a new deal that protects our country and its taxpayers.”
“I was elected to represent the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” he added.
The Trump administration pushed to reduce the emission-reduction targets agreed to by the Obama administration, claiming they would hurt jobs in the US.
Studies have shown that funding sustainable energy initiatives would help grow the US economy, adding millions of jobs in wind and solar power. In fact, energy produced from renewable sources could be cheaper to produce than energy from fossil fuels in a decade, according to the United Nations.
Global Citizen is campaigning to ensure the US maintains its commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement. World leaders failed to convince Trump, so now it’s up to us.
Join us by taking action here.