Holding the Group of Seven meeting in June in Miami — where streets flood on sunny days from rising seas, and stifling heat and humidity are worsening — seems to present an opportune time to discuss climate change. However, in announcing the choice of President Trump’s Miami-area Doral resort as the summit site, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters Thursday that climate change isn’t a priority for the meeting.
“Climate change will not be on the agenda,” Mulvaney said.
Trump’s decision not to raise the topic is not surprising, considering his intent to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, a treaty the rest of the G-7 leaders are committed to. It’s also in keeping with his treatment of climate change at other G-7 meetings and during international forums throughout his presidency. In August, for example, he skipped the climate session at the G-7 meeting in France, and he spent 14 minutes at a day-long U.N. climate summit in September, though that was 14 minutes more than was scheduled.
Trump and his advisers have been annoyed at previous G-7 sessions when climate change has been on the agenda, and the president has said he does not want to attend such sessions, according to advisers who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the president’s private comments. White House officials described being frustrated that a “niche” issue played such a large role within the G-7. The president has sought to put more emphasis on economic and trade issues, in particular.
The question of how to address climate in international meetings — including those of the Group of 20 and Arctic Council, in addition to the G-7 — has become a thorny issue for other leaders. Earlier this year, according to a senior diplomat for a foreign country who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal private discussions, European leaders decided not to push for a joint communique on climate during these gatherings to avoid a public split with the United States.
But the question of climate has continued to surface when world leaders gather, underscoring the chasm between Trump and his counterparts from other industrialized nations.
Trump has consistently questioned the overwhelming scientific consensus that human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases are causing global temperatures to increase, ice caps to melt, sea levels to rise, and extreme weather events such as heat waves to become more severe and frequent.
At this year’s G-7 summit, he said he would not jeopardize economic progress in the United States when he was asked about climate change.
“I’m not going to lose that wealth on dreams, on windmills,” he said.
“One of the problems that a lot of people like myself — we have very high levels of intelligence, but we’re not necessarily such believers,” he told The Washington Post in an interview last year.
In private, he is openly derisive of climate change — and even encouraged former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt to go on television and make the argument against it, advisers said. “It was one of their main bonding issues,” said a former EPA official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
White House officials want to make next year’s G-7 about the U.S. economy, hoping to use it as a strong political argument for the president’s policies in an election year.
However, it may be difficult for leaders to ignore climate change during their stay at Doral. Miami’s weather in June typically features hot and humid conditions, with the possibility of an early-season tropical storm or hurricane. Hurricane season, after all, starts June 1. The average daily high temperature in June in Miami since 2000 is 89 degrees, along with an average dew point of 74.5. Those two figures combine to give an average monthly heat index of 99 degrees.
Leaders of the G-7 nations won’t have to travel far to see the impacts of global warming. The city is under siege from rising sea levels and record heat, with local leaders and state officials taking increasingly drastic steps to reduce “sunny-day flooding” due to natural high tides combined with a climate-change-related rise in sea level.
Matthew Cappucci contributed to this report.