US president misses key meeting as summit agrees €20m fund to fight wildfires
Donald Trump did not attend Monday’s crucial discussion on climate and biodiversity at the G7 meeting of international leaders in Biarritz, missing talks on how to deal with the Amazon rainforest fires as well as new ways to cut carbon emissions.
Reporters noticed at the start of the session that the US president’s chair was empty.
Trump was later asked by reporters covering a meeting with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, whether he had attended the climate session. He replied: “We’re having it in a little while.” He did not appear to hear when a reporter told him it had just taken place.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, confirmed Trump had not personally attended the climate session but that Trump’s team had been present.
He said he had held long and in-depth talks with Trump on the Amazon fires and that the US president “shares our objectives” and was “fully engaged” in the joint G7 effort to help Brazil put out the fires and reforest.
Macron had placed the climate emergency and protection of biodiversity at the heart of the summit, even before the Amazon rainforest fires.
But just before the session began on Saturday, it appeared that Trump’s entourage felt discussing climate was of little importance, compared with the economy. Reports in the US said senior Trump aides felt Macron was seeking to embarrass his US counterpart by making the summit focus on “niche issues” such as climate change or gender equality.
In 2017, Trump pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord.
Macron announced that the G7 had agreed to an immediate fund of at least $20m (£16m) to help Amazon countries fight wildfires and launch a long-term global initiative to protect the rainforest.
He said the Amazon was the “lungs” of the planet and leaders were studying the possibility of similar support in Africa, also suffering from fires in its rainforests.
All G7 countries – the US, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Britain and Canada – would give technical and financial help to fight the Amazon fires.
Macron had shunted the Amazon fires to the top of the summit agenda after declaring them a global emergency, and kicked off discussions about the disaster at a welcome dinner for fellow leaders on Saturday.
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