Trump absent from G-7 session on climate

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Lawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech MORE on Monday skipped a session at the Group of Seven (G-7) summit in France focused on climate, biodiversity and oceans.

The president was not in the room when reporters were allowed to observe part of the session, and his seat was empty. The heads of government of the other six nations that comprise the G-7 were there.

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"The President had scheduled meetings and bilaterals with Germany and India, so a senior member of the Administration attended in his stead," press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamOn The Money: Pelosi, Trump tout deal on new NAFTA | McConnell says no trade vote until impeachment trial wraps up | Lawmakers push spending deadline to Thursday Trump, White House rip Democrats over impeachment articles Pelosi announces support for new Trump NAFTA deal MORE later told reporters.

Trump met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel a short time after the climate session and was asked if he had attended.

"I'm going to. In fact, it's going to be our next session. I want clear air and clean water," Trump said. It was unclear if he heard a reporter who noted the session had just happened.

During the climate meeting, leaders approved a $20 million aid package to help Brazil and other South American countries address fires engulfing swaths of the Amazon rainforest, French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronFrance, Brazilian states to announce international effort to fight Amazon fires The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - Democrats to release articles of impeachment today Ukraine, Russia agree to restart peace process MORE said.

Reuters reported that Macron told reporters that they should not "interpret" Trump's absence from the session and that the U.S. was aligned with other nations in biodiversity and the Amazon rainforest issues.

The issue of climate change has divided Trump and other G-7 leaders. He has characterized it as a hoax and cast doubt on government reports warning about the severe effects of a warming planet.

The president also pledged shortly after taking office that he would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, a global pact to reduce emissions and fight climate change that each of the other G-7 members has signed.

The president left last year's G-7 summit in Canada early and missed a session on climate change and clean energy as a result. 

Updated at 8:17 a.m.