(Adds Pruitt leaving meeting, his comments, background)
BOLOGNA, Italy, June 11 Differences between the
United States and other leading economies over climate change
remain wide and are destined to stay that way, Italy's
environment minister Gian Luca Galletti said on Sunday, as
Washington's environment chief left a Group of Seven meeting a
G7 environment ministers and officials are meeting in
Bologna on Sunday and Monday to discuss issues including climate
change, sustainable development and litter at sea.
"Positions over the Paris accord are far apart ... and will
remain like that," Galletti said on the sidelines of a meeting
of G7 environment ministers from the United States, Canada,
Japan, France, Germany, Italy and Britain. Italy holds the G7
presidency for 2017.
Scott Pruitt, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
chief, was called back to Washington from the G7 to attend
President Donald Trump's first full cabinet meeting on Monday.
Pruitt said in March he did not believe carbon dioxide was a
primary contributor to global warming,
Trump said this month he would withdraw the United States
from the Paris Climate Agreement, drawing condemnation from
other world leaders.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel
Macron and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni have said the
Paris agreement cannot be renegotiated, urging their allies to
speed up efforts to combat climate change.
"There's a willingness to find a common thread. ... We're
looking to mend things," Galletti told reporters, without
Trump, who has called climate change a hoax, has said the
Paris accord would undermine the U.S. economy, cost jobs, and
put the country at a permanent disadvantage compared to its
Pruitt said in a statement later on Sunday that the United
States had always been a world leader on environmental
stewardship and "that was demonstrated on a global stage today."
According to Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Pruitt
told delegates that Washington wanted to continue making efforts
in combating climate change.
"He also mentioned he wants to engage with the (UN's)
Climate Change secretariat," she said.
Trump has said that his administration would begin
negotiations either to re-enter the Paris deal or set up a new
agreement on "terms that are fair to the United States," which
is the world's second biggest carbon emitter behind China.
Supporters of the Paris accord have called Trump's move a
blow to international efforts to tackle dangers of global
(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes in Bologna and Timothy Gardner in
Washington; Editing by Jason Neely and Richard Chang)