U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg in the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
WASHINGTON — Norway’s prime minister told U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday that her country remains committed to the Paris climate agreement, making the business case of the “green economy” to the real estate developer-turned president.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg noted that many Norwegians drive U.S.-made Tesla electric cars and said her country saw “tremendous economic and business opportunities” as nations around the world fight climate change.
“Norway is combatting climate change — it’s an important issue for us and we are committed to the Paris agreement,” Solberg said during a joint news conference with Trump.
Trump said the planned U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate deal “wasn’t a major topic” during their discussions and repeated his claim that the climate agreement negotiated by the Obama administration and signed by countries around the globe “treated the United States very unfairly.”
“We could conceivably go back in,” Trump reiterated. But he added, “The Paris accord really would have taken away our competitive edge and we’re not going to let that happen — I’m not going to let that happen.”
Trump, who has previously called climate change a hoax, announced his intent to pull the U.S. out of the deal last year. At the time, he said the U.S. “will negotiate and see if we can get a better deal.”
Solberg, by contrast, cited her support of the agreement, which she said would help American businesses.
Encouraged by generous government tax credits, about one-third of Norwegians drive zero-emission electric cars — many of them American-made Teslas.
The exchange over the environment — and Solberg’s efforts to make the business case for fighting climate change — stood out as the two leaders bonded over economic ties and military might.
Trump’s meeting with Solberg was the first foreign leader visit with the president in 2018. Seated in the Oval Office, Trump noted that Norway has been a strong consumer of U.S.-built military equipment, including the F-35 aircraft.
Solberg said the U.S. was Norway’s “closest ally inside NATO” and noted her country’s investments in the U.S., which she said supported 470,000 U.S. jobs.
The conservative prime minister had said before the meeting that she’d put climate on the agenda in the bilateral talks.
Norway has sought to be an international leader in efforts to reduce planet-warming carbon emissions. While the Scandinavian country remains a major exporter of oil and gas, the Norwegian government was among the first to sign on to the landmark Paris climate deal, pledging to meet a 40 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.
Associated Press writer Michael Biesecker contributed to this report.