U.S. rejects G-7 pledges on climate efforts and aid

BOLOGNA, Italy — The U.S. refused Monday to sign up to a joint G-7 environment statement that said it was committed to reducing its carbon dioxide emissions or any section on climate change and multilateral development banks.

The communiqué adopted by G-7 environment ministers includes a footnote stating that the U.S. will continue to engage with "key international partners" in a way that is consistent with its domestic priorities — a "strong" economy and a "healthy" environment. But not much else.

"We the United States of America continue to demonstrate through action, having reduced our CO2 footprint as demonstrated by achieving pre-1994 CO2 levels domestically," the footnote said.

“We the United States do not join those sections of the communiqué on climate and [multilateral development banks], reflecting our recent announcement to withdraw and immediately cease implementation of the Paris agreement and associated financial commitments," the footnote continued.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has made a habit in recent months of pointing out that U.S. carbon emissions are lower than they were in 1994 as evidence of a natural U.S. trend toward lower emissions. Total U.S. emissions peaked in 2007, and in 2015 were 0.03 percent lower than they were in 1994, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The emissions reductions are largely the result of a glut of fracked natural gas pushing out coal as a source of electric power, but experts say additional policies would be necessary to deliver the sharp emissions reductions necessary to hit the Paris agreement’s goal of limiting global temperature increases to less than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Pruitt is in the process of revising or rescinding most of the Obama administration’s climate change regulations and has not outlined any of his own goals to reduce carbon levels.

The other six countries backed the Paris agreement’s goals for limiting global warming and efforts to ramp up measures before 2020 and the need to shore up more bilateral and multilateral climate finance. They said they will continue to work with the U.S. but that they are plowing ahead with commitments made under the Paris agreement.

"The Paris agreement is the only framework in which the fight against climate change can take place, it is irreversible, there is no doubt about it," France’s Environment and Energy Minister Nicolas Hulot told reporters Monday.

Eric Wolff contributed to this report.

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