Trump causes rift on climate change at G7 conference

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., called President Donald Trump's refusal to affirm the Paris climate agreement "a striking abdication of American leadership" in a tweet on Monday.

The dramatic announcement came as a summit of G7 leaders in Sicily wrapped up in deadlock on the issue, with United States partners voicing frustration at the president's failure to commit to the deal aimed at stemming global warming. Near the end of the summit, he tweeted teasingly that he would make a decision on Paris next week, leaving delegations to scratch their heads about why he could not commit in Taormina.

Trump boarded Air Force One without having held a single news conference on the trip - a break in presidential precedent that allowed him to avoid facing tough questions about his foreign policy or the raging controversies involving the investigations into his campaign's possible ties to Russian Federation.

His administration has argued that United States emissions standards are tougher than those set by China, India and others, and therefore have put American businesses at a disadvantage. During the meeting, representatives from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the European Union reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris agreement, with the exception of the United States.

"In this context, we all agree on the importance of supporting developing countries". Last month, Trump called the agreement "one-sided", suggesting that he may try to withdraw or renegotiate the terms of the deal.

Merkel, by contrast, was attending her 12th such gathering, and clearly believed she had overcome climate change scepticism at a 2007 summit, when she convinced the then U.S. President George W. Bush to pursue substantial cuts in greenhouse gases.

Earlier German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticised what she called "a very hard, not to say very unsatisfactory" discussion with Trump on the issue. And Scott Pruitt, ever the optimist, has now been pushing his aides in the EPA to work with outside supporters in getting as many Op/Eds written in major newspapers in favor of pulling out of the Paris accord.

French President Emmanuel Macron also chimed in on the climate issue, praising Trump's "capacity to listen". "A lot of people in my country are against this agreement", Trump allegedly said.

Back in 2012, Trump had tweeted: "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive", in a comment that was picked up by former presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton during her presidential campaign previous year. "His basis for decision ultimately will be what's best for the United States". His trip was closely watched by political observers looking for clues on future U.S. relations with the wider world.

Trump "is isolating the USA from its most important allies and those allies stood strong in the face of backsliding", Heather Coleman, climate director at Oxfam America, said in a statement referring to the Paris Agreement policy of not weakening climate-related commitments over time. "(.) It would be going tragically against the grain of history".

He has also expressed doubt about the causes of climate change, saying it is a "hoax" made up by China.

"It is unfortunate that the US Government is not yet convinced of the great economic benefits clean energy can provide".

The leaders acknowledged Trump's stance on trade and the communique includes a statement that the leaders will keep markets open, but "stand firm against all unfair trade practices".

Trump has said that he will soon announce his decision on whether America will leave the Paris Agreement or stick to the commitments it made under the Obama administration.

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