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US splits from G7 on Paris agreement

12 Jun 2017 15:44 (+01:00 GMT)
US splits from G7 on Paris agreement

Washington, 12 June (Argus) — The G7 environment ministers, minus the US, today reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris climate agreement, the latest sign of the split between President Donald Trump's administration and the rest of the world on global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The G7 ministers issued a joint communique expressing their support on a number of environment issues, with the US absent from the sections dealing with the Paris agreement. Instead, the environment ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the European Commission said they are maintaining a "strong commitment" to the Paris agreement, calling its implementation "irreversible," following the conclusion of a two-day meeting in Bologna, Italy.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared the meeting a needed "reset" of the global climate dialogue. "Today's action of reaching consensus makes clear that the Paris agreement is not the only mechanism by which environmental stewardship can be demonstrated. It also demonstrates our commitment to honest conversations, which are the cornerstone of constructive international dialogue," EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said.

A US-authored footnote in the communique touts the country's GHG reductions to date and says it will "continue to engage with key international partners in a manner that is consistent with our domestic priorities."

President Donald Trump earlier this month said he will withdraw the US from the Paris agreement, which seeks to limit the increase in global temperatures to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Trump said he wants to renegotiate the agreement or come up with an entirely new accord that will better protect US economic interests. By exiting the Paris agreement, the US joins Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries not to support it.

That decision has drawn sharp criticism from many countries and a number of US states, led by California and New York, which the other G7 ministers took note of in the communique.

"We welcome the continued support that the Paris agreement has received from other countries, and subnational and non-state actors around the world," the ministers said.