Trump did what is likely to be his last appearance at an international summit
after losing the US presidential election to Joe Biden. His views on the climate crisis – along with a host of other issues, from trade to security – have caused deep rifts in traditional American alliances that President-elect Biden has promised to repair.
Trump’s speech on the environment, which was preceded by the White House, was an appropriate conclusion to his four years of disagreement
on the issue with other world leaders. In it, Trump called the 2015 Paris Agreement “one-sided” and claimed it was designed to ruin the US economy.
“The Paris Agreement was not designed to save the environment, it was designed to kill the US economy,” he said. speaking from the diplomatic space
. “I refuse to hand over millions of US jobs and send trillions of US dollars to the world’s worst polluters and environmental criminals, and that’s what would have happened.”
Trump announced the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement in the first year of his presidency
, resisting some internal setbacks among his advisers who worried it would cause tensions with European and Asian allies.
However, the process of withdrawing was not completed until this month, and Biden has said he will re-enter the pact after being sworn in. Trump’s pending departure has brought his influence on the global stage to its lowest level. Most of the other G20 leaders has congratulated Biden
on his victory.
Trump’s participation in this year’s G20 was not even certain until the end of Friday, when it appeared on his official schedule. Trump has made no secret of his aversion to major multilateral summits and has questioned their value in talks with aides.
On Saturday, Trump beamed into the opening session of the virtual summit from the White House Situation Room, which begins at 6 p.m. 8 ET, though he started tweeting about his unfounded allegations
of election fraud 13 minutes later.
He made comments during the opening session, but they were not made public by the summit organizers, and the White House did not provide a copy of them. Later Saturday, Trump was on his golf course when a side session on global pandemic preparedness was convened, featuring speeches by French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others.
The environmental video was played as part of a similar session on the brink of the G20, which is being held practically this year due to coronavirus pandemic
. Trump’s comments were far removed from other leaders’ announcements during the session, which focused on multilateral efforts to reduce carbon emissions in an effort to curb climate change.
Trump instead chose to focus on his conservation record in the United States, saying during his administration “environmental management is a sacred obligation.”
He said he had worked to prevent children from being exposed to lead in drinking water, proclaimed a promise to plant 1 billion new trees, and said he had done more than any president of U.S. national parks since Teddy Roosevelt.
But Trump also heralded his efforts to expand U.S. fossil fuels despite their role in creating climate change.
“The United States is now the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas,” he said, referring to horizontal drilling and fracking.
“Every day we show that we can protect our workers, create new jobs and protect the environment without imposing crippling mandates and unilateral international agreements on our citizens,” he said.