Tuesday, January 26, 2021
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Trump Still Opposes The Paris Climate Accord

President Donald Trump railed against the Paris climate accord and touted American oil and natural gas production during a virtual session focused on safeguarding the environment on the final day of the Group of 20 summit.

Trump was making what is likely to be his final appearance at an international summit after losing the US presidential election to Joe Biden. His views on the climate crisis — along with a host of other issues, from trade to security — have caused deep fissures in traditional US alliances that President-elect Biden has promised to repair.

Donald Trump participated in his final Group of 20 summit on Saturday by tweeting throughout the opening session and skipping a special side-conference focused on the coronavirus pandemic.

It was a fitting end to Trump’s career in global multilateralism, which he has expressed his displeasure for since his first group summit — a G7 meeting held cliffside in Sicily — resulted in the feeling he was being ganged up upon by other world leaders.

It was unclear all week whether Trump would even be present for this year’s G20, which is being held virtually because of the pandemic. But on Friday evening, the White House released a schedule confirming his participation.

When the event began, Trump was among the nearly two-dozen world leaders who appeared via video-conference, beaming in from the White House situation room.

But only 13 minutes after the scheduled 8 a.m. ET, start time, Trump was sending tweets focused on his efforts to overturn the results of the US presidential election.

By 10 a.m. ET, the President had departed the White House on his way to his namesake golf club outside Washington, DC.

He was there when the “side event on Pandemic Preparedness” got underway, featuring remarks from French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and several other world leaders. Trump did not participate.

He is due to join another session of the G20 on Sunday morning, according to the White House schedule. But that is likely the last time Trump will meet in a summit setting with other world leaders as the end of his presidency nears.

Trump’s influence on the global stage is at a low ebb after losing the election. Most of the other G20 leaders have congratulated President-elect Joe Biden on his victory, with a notable exception in Russian President Vladimir Putin.

There had not been high expectations for this year’s G20, despite a pandemic that will require global efforts to contain the virus. That is partly down to the absence of American leadership, but other world leaders have also struggled to corral their counterparts into a joint effort to combat Covid-19.

Trump has never been partial to summit meetings, even when they were not held virtually. He departed a G7 meeting in Canada early and rescinded his signature on its final communique. Ahead of last year’s G7 in Biarritz, France, he asked his aides whether it was really necessary to attend.

It was Trump’s turn to host the G7 this year, but the pandemic foiled plans to host leaders in the United States. At one point, Trump raised the prospect of convening the G7 after the election, but officials say there are no plans in place now to arrange a meeting before the G7 presidency transfers to the United Kingdom in January.

Trump’s speech on the environment, which was pre-taped from the White House, provided an apt end to his four years of disagreements on the issue with fellow world leaders. In it, Trump called the 2015 Paris agreement “one-sided” and claimed it was designed to inflict ruin on the US economy.

“The Paris accord was not designed to save the environment, it was designed to kill the American economy,” he said, speaking from the Diplomatic Room. “I refuse to surrender millions of American jobs and send trillions of American dollars to the world’s worst polluters and environmental offenders, and that’s what would have happened.”

Trump announced the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement in the first year of his presidency, resisting some internal pushback among his advisers who worried it would cause tensions with European and Asian allies.

The process of pulling out wasn’t finalized until this month, however, and Biden has said he will reenter the pact after he is sworn in. Trump’s pending departure has brought his influence on the global stage to its lowest ebb. Most of the other G20 leaders have congratulated Biden on his victory.

The environmental video was played as part of a similar session on the margins of the G20, which is being held virtually this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump’s comments were far afield from other leaders’ messages during the session, which focused on multilateral efforts to reduce carbon emissions in a bid to slow climate change.

Trump chose to focus instead on his conservation record in the United States, saying under his administration “environmental stewardship is a sacred obligation.”

He said he’d worked to prevent children from being exposed to lead in drinking water, touted a pledge to plant 1 billion new trees, and said he’d done more than any president for US national parks since Teddy Roosevelt.

But Trump also heralded his efforts to expand American fossil fuels, despite their role in fueling climate change.

“The United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world,” he said, citing horizontal drilling and fracking.

“Every day we are proving we can protect our workers, create new jobs and safeguard the environment without imposing crippling mandates and one-sided international agreements on our citizens,” he said.

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