President Trump skips G7 meeting on climate change, and his excuse makes no sense

Trump alleges he skipped the meeting due to commitments to the leaders of Germany and India, though were both there

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published August 26, 2019 11:27AM (EDT)

US President Donald Trump speaks during a "Keep America Great" campaign rally at the SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire, on August 15, 2019. (Getty/Nicholas Kamm)
US President Donald Trump speaks during a "Keep America Great" campaign rally at the SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire, on August 15, 2019. (Getty/Nicholas Kamm)

President Donald Trump claims that he skipped a G7 meeting on climate change because of other commitments to the leaders of Germany and India, even though their top executives were at the meeting which he did not attend.

"The president had scheduled meetings and bilaterals with Germany and India, so a senior member of the administration attended in his stead," White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement to CNN after controversy erupted over Trump's absence at the meeting.

The White House had indeed sent staff to the climate change conference, yet Grisham's statement overlooked the fact that both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the climate conference which Trump had decided to skip.

Modi even tweeted about it, writing that "at the @G7 Summit in Biarritz, I addressed the session on ‘Biodiversity, Oceans, Climate.’ Highlighted India’s large scale efforts towards eliminating single use plastic, conserving water, harnessing solar energy and, protecting flora and fauna for a sustainable future."

The Trump administration has incurred considerable controversy over its opposition to the consensus view among scientists that human activity is warming up the planet and risking the sustainability of civilization as we know it. Their policies have ranged from pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord to suppressing government-funded studies that detail the catastrophic impact on climate change.

"The intent is to try to suppress a message — in this case, the increasing danger of human-caused climate change. Who loses out? The people, who are already suffering the impacts of sea level rise and unprecedented super storms, droughts, wildfires and heat waves," Michael E. Mann, a leading climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, told Politico about the suppressed studies in June.

When Salon asked Mann in May about the Trump administration's decision to stop funding studies that analyze the impact of global warming, he explained that "this is a logical next step in the effort by Trump and the polluting interests that dictate his environmental policies to dismantle the environmental protections of the past half century put in place by past both Republican and Democratic presidents."

He added, "Let me be blunt: Trump is choosing to kill people in order to increase the profits of the polluting interests to which he is beholden. I cannot think of a more craven act than this, and we’re talking about a president who is known for craven acts. There is a reason I warned back in October 2016 that Trump is a threat to the planet."

Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Department of Global Ecology shared a similar view, telling Salon by email that "it is one thing for the Trump administration to decide that more people should be killed from particulate air pollution, because their lives are worth less than the money to be made from loosened regulations. It is another thing entirely to enter an Orwellian world, in which we pretend that the loosening of regulations will not result in more people dying. Trump complains about fake news, but then to justify his policies, his minions create fake science and then use it to create real policy."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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