The U.S. is reduced to a tiny footnote on a key climate statement
Over the course of just the past few weeks, the United States has gone from the world leader on fighting global warming to its biggest holdout.
The main trigger for this sudden role reversal was President Donald Trump’s June 1 announcement that the U.S. would withdraw from the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change, and now we’re starting to see the ripple effects of that decision.
Take, for example, what happened at a meeting of the environment ministers from the Group of 7 industrialized nations on Sunday and Monday.
The ministers issued a non-binding climate and environment statement attesting to the “irreversibility” of the landmark Paris Agreement and committing to taking a variety of actions to slash greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet.
The communiqué reads in part:
The Environment Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom, and the European Commissioners responsible for environment and climate agree that the Paris agreement is irreversible and its full integrity is key for the security and prosperity of our planet, societies and economies. Our actions will continue to be inspired and guided by the growing, global momentum to tackle climate change and to accelerate the irreversible transition to low-carbon, climate resilient and resource-efficient economies.
Under former President Barack Obama, the U.S. would surely have signed onto such a statement, and it would’ve made little news.
However, Trump’s representative at the meeting, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt, instead relegated the U.S. to a footnote that doesn’t include the words “climate change.”
The footnote, which is at the bottom of one of the pages in the statement, says that the U.S. will kinda, sorta continue working with international partners on climate change: “The United States will continue to engage with key international partners in a manner that is consistent with our domestic priorities, preserving both a strong economy and a healthy environment,” the footnote reads.
The communique includes this item on climate science that the U.S. also refused to sign onto: “We support an interactive evidence-based dialogue drawing on the best available science, including reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change…”
Instead of that, Pruitt has advocated for establishing opposing teams of experts to debate climate science before the American people, which mainstream climate researchers have called deeply troubling.
To cap off the clear abandonment of the traditional American role at these meetings, Pruitt flew home a day early to attend one of the most bizarre presidential cabinet meetings in modern memory. During that meeting on Monday, cabinet secretaries, including Pruitt, went around the table praising Trump for his leadership and accomplishments to date.
Pruitt, for his part, is a longtime critic of the agency he now leads. He has used his short tenure at the helm of the EPA to dismantle environmental regulations put in place under Obama, while also seeking to drastically shrink the EPA’s workforce and mission.
He has denied the widely accepted climate science findings that human activities, mainly the burning of fossil fuels for energy, are causing the climate to warm, with a slew of harmful effects.