Donald Trump during the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City September 23, 2019.
Donald Trump during the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City September 23, 2019.
Photo: AP

President Donald Trump showed up to the United Nation’s Climate Action Summit Monday—for about 15 minutes. The president wasn’t expected to show up at the international meetings at all, so his appearance was a surprise. Even if it was for 15 minutes, max.

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At least one journalist on Twitter said the president stayed as little as 10 minutes. Either way, 15 minutes isn’t that much better. He had to run to make the United Nations session on religious freedom he is leading Monday. Protecting individuals from religious persecution is an important cause, of course, but Trump leading it feels... off. He’s the one who instituted a ban on Muslim immigrants into the U.S., remember?

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Trump loves skipping international meetings related to climate change, though. In June, the climate-denying president skipped the climate portion of the Group of Seven Summit. This is the same dude, after all, who pulled the United States out of the Paris Agreement, so his behavior is to be expected. Still, it’s odd for him to show face at the UN Climate Action Summit at all given his indifference to climate change. Then again, Trump loves attention.

According to CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller, Trump said he popped into the UN summit because he believes in clean air and water. (Yeah, right.) Mind you, Trump has been repealing any and every legal protection for clean air and water since he strolled into the White House, including regulations on coal ash, waterways, and energy. The loss of such environmental policy not only threatens the air and water; it threatens public health.

“All countries should get together and do that,” Trump said, per Knoller. “And they should do it for themselves.”

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Okay then! Just FYI, Mr. President: 15 minutes of showing face will do nothing to protect our air, water, or planet. Effective and urgent climate policy will.

Yessenia Funes is a senior staff writer with Earther. She loves all things environmental justice and dreams of writing children's books.

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