The Group of Seven (G7) summit in Canada is going to be winnowed down the Group of Six because Donald Trump’s fee-fees are hurt. According to CNN, the White House announced Thursday the president will be packing up his toys and leaving the gathering of world leaders before its conclusion on Saturday, cutting out on sessions on climate and oceans.
The exodus comes after an escalating war of tariffs and tweets in the weeks leading up to the summit. But that may not be the sole reason Trump wants to leave Quebec early. Aside from instilling terror in immigrant mothers, the Trump administration’s greatest accomplishment has been dismantling climate and environmental protections. The biggest international move the president has made so far was announcing his plan to pull out of the Paris Agreement just over a year ago.
While the U.S. is still technically in the agreement until 2020, it’s not like the administration has any shown any interest in cooperating on it. Its only contribution to international climate talks last year was a session espousing the benefits of clean coal, which activists crashed and then walked out on en masse. At home, the number of attempted climate rule rollbacks and policies that slow climate mitigation is getting too long to list.
The administration has also proven no fan of ocean protection, advocating drilling the high seas anywhere there’s oil to be potentially found. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke also recommended shrinking or reducing protections for three marine national monuments.
The administration’s actions stand in stark contrast to the questions the G7 is looking to answer about climate change and oceans this year, one of this year’s key themes. Here they are:
1. How can the G7 accelerate the transition to low carbon, climate resilient economies? What issues, areas, or initiatives should the G7 prioritize?
2. How can the G7 create a cleaner environment for future generations, while also creating jobs and growth that benefits everyone?
3. What are the most important issues facing our oceans and coastal communities today? How should the G7 work together to address these issues, including as it relates to expanding conservation, eliminating pollution, and promoting the sustainable use of maritime resources?
4. How can the G7 advance gender equality and women’s empowerment through its actions related to climate change, oceans and clean growth?
If I was Trump (shudder), I frankly wouldn’t want to stick around either. In leaving early when climate comes up, he follows a new tradition started by Scott Pruitt last year during the G7 ministerial last year.
That said, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out host nation Canada isn’t exactly a climate luminary. The country just nationalized construction of the embattled Trans Mountain pipeline expansion that will triple the capacity of tar sands crude the current pipeline delivers from Alberta to British Columbia. In addition to contributing to the climate crisis, indigenous groups, environmental activists, and the governor of Washington worry that the increase in tanker traffic caused by the pipeline will increase the risk of oil spills in the Burrard Inlet and Puget Sound.
One can hope Trump’s absence will reduce distractions, allowing Canada and the other countries present to take a hard look at themselves, too.