As G7 leaders meet in Italy, can they reaffirm their commitment to action on climate change without driving the US out of the Paris accord?

G7 leaders meeting in Sicily will strike a delicate balance between making a strong statement on climate and keeping Donald Trump’s US onside (Photo: Wiros)

The leaders of the G7 countries face a dilemma at a summit beginning on Friday in Sicily: how hard they can push Donald Trump without pushing him right out of the Paris climate deal?

Trump has threatened to withdraw from the agreement, but is still making up his mind. Two weeks ago, the White House said he was deferring his decision until after meeting with G7 leaders.

In recent years, the G7 has produced strong proclamations on climate change and decarbonisation, including a 2015 pledge to end all fossil fuel use by the end of the century.

But with the threat of a US withdrawal from the Paris agreement hanging over discussions in Taormina, leaders of the other major advanced economies may hesitate to insist on the strong affirmations of climate action the body has issued in the past.

“It’s quite clear that governments are not going to go to war with Trump,” said Tom Burke, chairman of E3G. “You really wouldn’t want to run the risk of forcing him out of Paris… You wouldn’t want to put him in a situation where he could go back [to the US] saying you’re all ganging up on me, I’m leaving.”

Whether by design or not, Trump’s indecision is likely to significantly water down a section of the leaders’ communiqué devoted to climate and energy policy.

Climate Home was told by sources familiar with the negotiations that a text on climate change had barely been discussed by sherpas – the lead negotiators who hammer out language in advance.

This year, climate change was so politically fraught that the text would be discussed by the leaders on Friday, one source said. Sherpas will then work on the text overnight with…