ROME The U.S. administration of Donald Trump on Monday scuppered efforts by the Group of Seven industrialized countries to reach a common stance on energy when it asked for more time to work out its policies on climate change.
Trump signed an order in March to undo climate change regulations drawn up under his predecessor Barack Obama, calling into question U.S. support for an international deal to fight global warming.
The order's main target was Obama's Clean Power Plan, requiring states to slash carbon emissions from power plants - a key factor in U.S. ability to meet commitments under a climate change accord reached by nearly 200 countries in Paris in 2015.
At a news conference wrapping up the G7 Energy meeting in Rome, Italian industry and energy minister Carlo Calenda said the United States was reviewing its strategy on climate change and the Paris Agreement.
"While this is under way, the United States reserves its position on these key priorities," he said. "It was not possible to sign a joint declaration since it would not cover the whole range of topics in the agenda."
Calenda, who chaired the G7 meeting, said all other European Union countries remained strongly committed to the Paris accord to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Speaking from Madrid later on Monday, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Europe would "respect everyone's opinion on the matter but it would not accept making any steps backward with respect to the strategic choices made on climate change".
Gentiloni is due to meet Trump at a G7 summit Italy will host in Sicily next month, with Italy anxious to get public backing from all leaders on the Paris accords.
A source close to the G7 talks said the inability of U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry to commit showed the isolation of the United States at the ministerial meeting.
"The U.S. also wanted to include references to coal and fossil fuels," the source said.
During his election campaign, Trump pledged to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord, arguing it would hurt U.S. business.
Environmental groups have criticized the administration's order, arguing it runs dangerously counter to the global trend toward cleaner energy technologies.
But Washington has still not spelt out its stance on the Paris agreement and some officials hope there is room for maneuver.
"The talks were constructive and there was no friction," Calenda said.
The Italian minister is due to hold bilateral talks with Perry on Tuesday.
(Additional reporting by Isla Binnie in Madrid; Editing by Francesca Landini and Janet Lawrence)