White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn angered German officials Thursday when he said President Donald Trump would choose growing the economy over fighting global warming if the two goals came into conflict.
“If it comes to a choice between measures to curtail global warming under the 2015 Paris climate accord and growing the U.S. economy, economic considerations would prevail,” Cohn told reporters on Air Force One Thursday.
Cohn’s statement comes as European officials lobby Trump to stay party to the Paris agreement, which the Obama administration joined in 2016 without the advice and consent of the Senate. Trump promised to withdraw from the Paris agreement on the campaign trail, but it’s unknown if the president will keep his promise.
The White House is split on the issue and Trump’s been lobbied by establishment politicians and corporations to stick with Paris.
But Cohn, who personally supports staying in Paris, laid out somewhat of a litmus test for Trump’s decision on Paris. If it comes down to the economy or global warming, Trump will choose the economy. “If those things collide, growing our economy is going to win,” Cohn said.
German officials reacted harshly to the statements, telling TheNYT, “We expressly don’t share the view that protecting the climate harms economic growth.”
Europeans have been trying to convince Trump fighting global warming spurs economic growth.
A spokesman for Germany’s environment ministry said they’re lobbying the Trump administration “at all levels right now” to stay in the Paris agreement. Cohn said Trump has been pressured to stay in the Paris agreement at nearly every meeting at the G7 summit in Sicily.
President Emmanuel Macron said he had an “extremely direct and very frank” conversation with Trump about staying in Paris, which nearly 200 countries agreed to in 2015. Macron has a special reason to push the deal since it was negotiated in his capital city, Paris.
“I reminded him of the importance these agreements have for us,” Macron said Thursday. “My wish in any case is that there should be no hasty decision on this subject by the United States because it is our collective responsibility to retain the global nature of this pledge, which was a first.”
Trump is expected to make a decision on the Paris agreement after returning from the G7 meeting.
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