G7 environment chiefs yesterday met in Italy for talks set to be dominated by the rift caused by the US’ withdrawal from the Paris climate change accord.
“G7 countries have crucial roles and responsibilities to our own public opinion, to developing countries and to the planet,” Italian Minister of the Environment Gian Luca Galletti said at the start of the two-day meet. “The international community awaits our message.”
US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, a friend of the oil industry who is skeptical about anthropogenic climate change, represents Washington’s interests during the two-day meeting.
Up against him will be the likes of German Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety Barbara Hendricks, who tried to ban meat from her ministry’s catering on the grounds it was bad for the planet.
France is deploying prominent Green campaigner and French Minister of Ecological and Solidary Transition Nicolas Hulot, new French President Emmanuel Macron’s high-profile pick for the environment brief.
Italy’s large environmentalist movement has also vowed to make its voice heard. A major demonstration against US President Donald Trump’s decision was to be held on Sunday afternoon in the ancient university city and bastion of progressive activism.
“We are expecting a good turnout. A lot of people are very upset about Trump’s decision and it has started a new debate,” Giacomo Cossu, one of the organisers of the demonstration, told reporters.
Trump announced at the start of this month that the US would not abide by the 2015 Paris Agreement and would seek to renegotiate terms he denounced as unfairly damaging to the US’ economy and overly generous to India and China.
A spokesman for Hendricks said Germany would be looking for “something more concrete” from Pruitt in terms of what the US was going to do.
Trump has said Washington will not be bound by the targets on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases set down in Paris, and will cut funding for developing countries affected by climate change.
However, many analysts say Trump’s rhetoric might make little difference.
Important players in US industry and individual cities and states are already implementing changes aimed at meeting the targets laid down in Paris, where most nations agreed to try and cap global temperature rises at 2?C above preindustrial levels.
Germany and California, the US’ wealthiest state, on Saturday agreed to work together to keep the Paris accords on track.
“The G7 countries have to have a cohesive approach,” on climate change, Japanese Minister of the Environment Koichi Yamamoto told yesterday’s opening session.
Yamamoto believes the US could still be persuaded to fall back into line with the international consensus.
“So far there’s only been an announcement that the US is withdrawing, it has not yet materialized. So we’re going to keep trying to persuade them,” he said recently.
Officials were unable to offer any guidance as to what kind of statement the meeting could produce.
When G7 leaders met in Sicily last month, they publicly recognized that the US was isolated on the climate issue, with the other six member countries vowing to continue their efforts to address global warming by curbing emissions while promoting “green” technology and renewable energy forms.
The discussions in Bologna are also attended by Chile, the Maldives, Ethiopia and Rwanda, four developing nations with a particular interest in combating climate change.
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