Donald Trump made an unscheduled drop in at the UN Climate Summit on Monday, an event he had been expected to skip in favor of a religious forum important to conservative voters ahead of next year’s election.
The president said he stopped by because he believes in clean air and clean water.
‘I believe in clean air and clean water,’ he told reporters later Monday when asked why he dropped in. ‘Very simple. We have the cleanest air and the cleanest water – cleaner than it’s ever been before in our country. I like clean air and clean water.’
The president took a seat at the table during the summit as his friend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India addressed the group, which is a priority of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
‘The world needs to act now,’ Modi said as Trump applauded.
President Donald Trump made an unscheduled drop in at the UN Climate Summit in New York – where he appeared to be checking his watch during an address by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Trump was flanked by Vice-President Mike Pence during the proceedings
Trump listened as his friend Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India spoke
The president spent about 15 minutes seated in the United States’ seat for the event and did not make any remarks.
He and Modi have become close friends with the president joining the prime minister in for a rally in Houston on Sunday, where Modi lauded their ‘chemistry.’
The two men held hands as they walked into the arena to address the 50,000 attendees.
Meanwhile, Trump came under fire for Democrats and climate activists for not having the United Nations Climate Action Summit on his schedule.
The president has expressed skepticism of climate change in the past and, at one point, called it a hoax created by the Chinese to hurt U.S. manufacturers.
Trump scheduled counter programming on Monday – lining up a religious freedom event for the same time the delegates were meeting to talk about the environment.
Trump spent about 15 minutes seated in the United States’ seat for the event and did not make any remarks
The president has expressed skepticism of climate change in the past and, at one point, called it a hoax created by the Chinese to hurt U.S. manufacturers
Vice President Mike Pence (center) introduced President Trump at the religious forum as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (right) looks on
The president, along with Vice President Mike Pence, attended an Event on Religious Freedom at UN headquarters, an issue important to evangelical voters as the president heads into the 2020 election.
‘It is a true honor to be the first President of the United States to host a meeting at the United Nations on religious freedom,’ Trump told the gathering.
He touted the long history of religious freedom in the United States and said Americans had a ‘moral duty’ to protect that right.
‘The United States is founded on the principle that our rights do not come from government they come from God,’ the president noted.
‘As President, protecting religious freedom is one of my highest priorities and always has been,’ he said.
He added: ‘We must all work together to protect communities of every faith. We’re also urging every nation to increase the prosecution and punishment of crimes against religious communities.’
His daughter, White House adviser Ivanka Trump, was on hand to hear his remarks, as were Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and new Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft.
A senior administration official on a call Friday previewing the president’s UN agenda declined to discuss why Trump wasn’t appearing at the climate summit.
‘On the climate change issue, we just want to focus today on the actual event that the President is going to be doing. The Secretary-General will be participating in the religious freedom event,’ the person said.
‘This event seeks to highlight and broaden international support for protecting religious freedom in the wake of increasing persecution of people on the basis of their own beliefs and faiths, and a growing number of attacks on and destruction of houses of worship, religious sites, and relics by state and nonstate actors,’ the person added.
Although Trump made the unscheduled visit to the UN on Monday, he skipped a climate meeting at the G7 summit in France last month. One of his first actions as president was to remove the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord
Trump, who was spotted with his eyes closed during the summit, was not at the UN when teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg opened the climate session
Thunberg told the summit: ‘This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you’
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the Climate Summit
Trump also skipped a climate meeting at the G7 summit in France last month. One of his first actions as president was to remove the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord.
Teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg opened the climate session on Monday with an angry condemnation of world leaders for failing to take strong measures to combat climate change – ‘How dare you,’ she said.
Trump was not in the room for her remarks.
‘This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you,’ she said.
‘You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,’ she added.
Guterres also addressed the climate group’s opening session.
‘Nature is angry and we fool ourselves if we think we can fool nature because nature always strikes back and around the world nature is striking back with fury,’ he said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron were also scheduled to attend the climate session.