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Trump skipped G7 climate change meeting, leaving an empty chair

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When global leaders gathered on Monday to discuss the growing threat of climate change at the G7 summit in France, US President Donald Trump was conspicuously absent.

Trump was scheduled to attend the meeting, which focused on reducing carbon emissions and protecting biodiversity, but didn’t, according to French President Emmanuel Macron. Instead, lower-level White House aides attended in Trump’s place.

At the end of the meeting, other global leaders in attendance pledged $20 million to help fight the raging fires in the Amazon rainforest and to launch a long-term initiative to protect the area.

The commitment was a major victory for Macron, who has made fighting climate change and the Brazilian wildfires a key agenda item.

Trump, meanwhile, is a longtime climate skeptic who once suggested global warming was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. He also shocked the global community when he withdrew the US from the landmark Paris climate accord in 2017, shortly after taking office.

Read more: Trump reportedly suggested using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from striking the US

Asked by reporters about Trump’s absence from the meeting, Macron said he wasn’t going to try to convince the US president to rejoin the climate deal, saying, “You can’t rewrite the past.” But he added that he and Trump had a “long, rich, and totally positive” conversation about fighting the Amazon wildfires.

Trump started Monday morning behind schedule, the Associated Press reported. When he met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Trump was asked whether he’d attend the climate change meeting and replied that it was his next stop on the schedule. He added that he wants clean air and water, but he never showed up to the meeting.

The AP also reported that Antonio Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, is hopeful that Americans will work to fight global warming even though Trump won’t.

“I am very optimistic about American society and its capacity to deliver in relation to climate action,” he told reporters after leaving the climate meeting. “What matters here is to have a strong engagement of the American society and of the American business community and the American local authorities.”

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