Trump on the Paris Climate Accord: ‘Something Could Happen … We’ll See’

By Fayçal Benhassain and Patrick Goodenough | July 13, 2017 | 7:49 PM EDT

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump in Paris on July 13, 2017 (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Paris ( – “Something could happen with respect to the Paris accord,” President Trump told reporters in the French capital on Thursday, in reference to the international climate agreement that he withdrew from six weeks ago, to the dismay of governments around the world.

“We’ll see what happens,” Trump said alongside French President Emmanuel Macron. “But we will talk about that over the coming period of time. And if it happens, that will be wonderful. And if it doesn’t, that will be okay, too. But we’ll see what happens.”

Along with other European and world leaders Macron has made no secret of his disappointment at Trump’s June 1 decision to pull the U.S. out of the ambitious agreement reached at a U.N. climate conference in Paris in 2015.

The new French president said Thursday he and Trump had discussed their disagreement over climate, but that that disagreement should not have an impact on working on other topics on which the two share views and goals.

“As far as I'm concerned, I remain extremely attached to the framework of the Paris Accord, which has been a major international breakthrough,” he said at the joint press conference.

Trump and the first lady earlier arrived in Paris for a two day visit built around Friday’s Bastille Day celebrations and the 100th anniversary of the entry of the United States into World War I.

Macron offered the surprise invitation to Trump when the two leaders met in Hamburg for the G20 summit last week.

The president and Melania Trump were welcome to the Hotel des Invalides, built in the 17th  century by the King Louis XIV and incorporating museums and monuments relating to the military history of France. Macron and his wife, Brigitte, led their guests on a tour that included a visit to the tomb of Napoleon, whose body was brought there in 1840.

The two presidents then went to the Elysee Palace for a private meeting followed by one with military advisers. At the press conference they took just four questions, after speaking in turn about their talks, highlighting a budding friendship and shared views on issues including the conflicts in Syria, Libya and the Sahel region where French forces are confronting Islamist terrorists.

Trump and Macron underlined a commitment to better collaboration against terrorism and to work more together to fight online radicalization.

French media commentators were at first surprised when news of the invitation was announced after Macron’s return from Hamburg. In a survey conducted early this week 59 percent of respondents said they opposed the invitation.

This was thought largely a result of unhappiness over the Paris accord withdrawal, as well as Trump’s policies on trade.

Various commentators suggested Macron is trying to break Trump’s “isolation,” in the interests of the two countries’ historic relationship and shared strategic interests

Senator Nathalie Goulet, a member of the Union of Democrats and Independents party, said Macron is also trying to strengthen his own international stature by dealing with “a person who can destabilize people but who is the president of the first world power.”

“I also think that as long as there is a dialogue, it is positive,” she said.

“I hope that Trump will realize if he visits a U.S. military cemetery outside Paris … and during the Bastille Day parade where troops from the United States will march next to French ones, that the two countries have a lot in common, contrary to what he may think,” Goulet said.

Left wing lawmakers opposed the visit, with Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the Rebellious France party declaring that the American president was “not welcome.”

“An unworthy symbolic reward has been made to an American president who gave the finger to humanity and climate,” complained French environmentalist and member of the European Parliament, Yannick Jadot.

Bob Vallier, secretary of Democrats Abroad in France, told reporters that Trump’s policies are “not compatible with the values that France and the United States have shared for 200 years.”

While Trump and Macron were meeting at the Elysee Palace, the two first ladies visited Notre Dame Cathedral and then enjoyed a cruise on the Seine. Mrs. Trump also visited a children’s hospital in central Paris.

On Thursday night the two couples had dinner at a famous restaurant on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. On Friday, they are due to go to the Champs Elysees for the military parade that is a tradition for Bastille Day.


Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow

Sponsored Links