As president, Donald Trump has become known for changing strongly held opinions in a heartbeat, often while meeting with an advisor or foreign official who persuades him of the merits of another point of view.
Norway’s prime minister Erna Solberg appears to have excellent powers of persuasion. In a short press conference after meeting with Solberg today (Jan. 10) for just over an hour, Trump said the US could consider reentering the Paris Climate Accord that he pulled out of last summer, and spoke wistfully about Norway’s hydroelectric capacity.
“So, we can conceivably go back in,” Trump said about the Paris deal. (The US can’t technically exit the deal until just after the next presidential election, but the president’s declaration last June left the US isolated—it is the only country in the world planning to step away from the pact.) Trump added, “we are very strong on the environment. I feel very strongly about the environment.”
It was a remarkable statement from a president who wants to gut the Environmental Protection Agency, is slashing regulations protecting consumers from pollution, and champions some of the dirtiest forms of energy out there.
In praising Norway’s hydropower generation, Trump pointed out that the country gets most of its energy from hydropower (it does) and said “I wish we’d do some of that.” (The United States gets about 2.5% of its total energy from hydropower and 7% of its electricity.)
When Solberg pointed earlier in the day that US-made electrically powered Teslas were very popular in Norway, Trump replied “Oh, good. Well, that’s good.”
The momentary greening of Trump wasn’t complete—he used the news conference to take another knock at 2016 rival Hillary Clinton and her support of wind energy.
Whatever Solberg said to Trump, she was also efficient. The two met alone for just 15 minutes, before stepping into a one-hour “bilateral meeting” that included Norway’s foreign minister and ambassador to the US: