(Adds Pruitt leaving meeting, his comments, background)
BOLOGNA, Italy, June 11 (Reuters) - 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 day early.
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 providing details.
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 competitors.
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 warming.
Reporting by Stephen Jewkes in Bologna and Timothy Gardner in Washington; Editing by Jason Neely and Richard Chang