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Trump Claims to Be ‘Environmentalist’ After Skipping G7 Climate Meeting
The White House later blamed scheduling for his absence.
"The President had scheduled meetings and bilaterals with Germany and India, so a senior member of the Administration attended in his stead," Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said, as CNN reported.
But both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended at least the beginning of the session, according to CNN.
During his meeting with Modi, Trump was asked about the climate meeting and said he would head there next, but he never did, according to ABC News.
Later that day at the summit's closing press conference, however, Trump stated that he was an "environmentalist," The Hill reported.
"I'm an environmentalist. A lot of people don't understand that," he said when asked if he still doubted that climate change was happening. After citing his experience filing environmental impact statements as a real estate developer, he continued, "I think I know more about the environment than most people. I want clean air. I want clean water. I want a wealthy country. I want a spectacular country with jobs, with pensions, with so many things. And that's what we're getting."
"I feel that the United States has tremendous wealth. The wealth is under its feet. I've made that wealth come alive," he said, pointing to the United States' rise to a global leader in oil exports and his efforts to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for oil drilling, an initiative that has hit a number of roadblocks.
But he again dismissed sources of renewable energy like wind power, referring to power generating wind turbines as "windmills" and telling reporters he didn't want to waste America's "tremendous" energy wealth on "dreams."
French President Emmanuel Macron, who has criticized Trump's climate policies in the past, told reporters not to infer too much from the U.S. President's absence at the climate meeting.
"He wasn't in the room, but his team was," Macron said at a press conference reported by CNN.Macron said he would not try to persuade the Trump administration to rejoin the Paris agreement to fight climate change, and said that he and Trump had had a productive discussion on the fires in the Amazon, ABC News reported.
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Talk is cheap, says the acting executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, who begged governments around the world to make sure that 2020 is not another year of conferences and empty promises, but instead is the year to take decisive action to stop the mass extinction of wildlife and the destruction of habitat-sustaining ecosystems, as The Guardian reported.