US official makes brief appearance at G7 environment summit

June 11, 2017
Environment ministers, European Union representatives and outreach partners pose for a family photo at the opening of a two-day G7 summit on the environment, in Bologna, Italy, Sunday, June 11, 2017. Front row from left; German Federal Minister for the Environment Barbara Hendricks, United States Environment Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, Canada's Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, Italian Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti, France's Environment expert Virginie Dumoulin, Britain's Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs minister Therese Coffey, Japanese Environment Minister Koichi Yamamoto. Back row from left; Maldives Environment Minister Thoriq Ibrahim, European Commissioner for Cimate, Miguel Arias Canete, Chile Environment Minister Marcelo Mena Carrasco, unidentified, Rwanda's Minister of Natural Resources Vincent Biruta and European Union Commissioner for the Environment Karmenu Vella (Giorgio Benvenuti/ANSA via AP)

BOLOGNA, Italy (AP) — Top environment officials from the Group of Seven wealthy democracies met Sunday in Italy amid ongoing differences between the U.S. and other members of the club over how to deal with climate change.

Scott Pruitt, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, attended the first few hours of the two-day summit before returning to Washington for a Cabinet meeting, U.S. officials said.

Before his departure, Pruitt’s counterparts from Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Japan and Italy expressed their disappointment at President Donald Trump’s recent decision to pull the U.S. out of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The other six countries in the G-7 all agreed at last month’s political summit of national leaders in Sicily to work toward making the Paris climate accord effective.

Italy’s environment minister, Gian Luca Galletti, who is leading the G-7 environment meeting in Bologna, said that despite the split, dialogue had to continue, including on other environmental issues such as ocean pollution.

Among those pushing hardest to maintain international momentum on combating global warming is Germany, which hosts this year’s annual climate summit in November. Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks met Friday with California Gov. Jerry Brown to demonstrate that Germany is prepared to work with individual U.S. states if Trump refuses to be part of the Paris effort any longer.

California is a member of the ′Under 2 Coalition ,′ a group of 175 states and cities that aim to help keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, a threshold scientists say is necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change.

In a snipe at the Trump administration, Hendricks’ ministry on Friday posted a ′fact check’ of Trump’s speech announcing the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris accord, claiming it contains “blatant fallacies.”

The G-7 environment ministers were expected to issue a concluding declaration Monday. Hendricks told reporters that efforts were being made to get all countries — including the U.S. — on board, but that this outcome wasn’t certain yet.


Frank Jordans contributed from Berlin. Frances D’Emilio in Rome, and Ken Thomas in Branchburg, New Jersey, also contributed to this report.