G20 Communique Shows Trump’s Outsized Influence

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World leaders from the G20 met last week amidst tumultuous global tensions between China and the United States, publishing a joint communique at the end of proceedings which highlighted Donald Trump’s outsized influence on issues of global importance.

Last week, in advance of the 13th meeting of Group of Twenty (G20) which met on Friday and Saturday in Buenos Aires, Argentina, it was reported that drafting the traditional end-of-meeting communique was extremely difficult, especially the section referencing the Paris Agreement. According to Argentina’s G20 sherpa (emissary) Pedro Villagra Delgado, drafting the section was turning out to be the “most complicated” aspect. “Of course, we want the Paris Agreement to be mentioned, but we want it to be mentioned, encompassing everyone, albeit in an ambiguous way,” he said. “The United States does not say that nothing should be done [about climate change], but that they do not want to have neither the obligations nor the goals imposed by the Paris Agreement.”

Specifically, according to an early draft seen by Climate Home News, there was no strong backing of the Paris Climate Agreement — instead, simply “acknowledging the different circumstances, including those of countries determined to implement the Paris Agreement” — nor any mention of the IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C which was published earlier this year and which warned that “Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”

The G20 published its final “G20 Leaders’ declaration Building consensus for fair and sustainable development” on Sunday, and the United States saw its outsized influence decrease from the early draft versions, but only slightly. Specifically, the final declaration includes mention of the IPCC’s report — “We note the latest IPCC Special Report on the Impacts of Global Warming of 1.5 degrees centigrade.” — and, without having seen earlier drafts, seems to strengthen its stance on the Paris Climate Agreement.

That being said, however, it is clear to see Donald Trump’s fingerprints on mention of issues of climate change and energy. It appears that, instead of undermining the statement on the Paris Agreement, the authors of the report gave the United States its own spotlight (see below):

20. Signatories to the Paris Agreement, who have also joined the Hamburg Action Plan, reaffirm that the Paris Agreement is irreversible and commit to its full implementation, reflecting common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances. We will continue to tackle climate change, while promoting sustainable development and economic growth.

21. The United States reiterates its decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, and affirms its strong commitment to economic growth and energy access and security, utilizing all energy sources and technologies, while protecting the environment.

“This outcome reaffirms the G19 resolve to act on climate, isolating the US administration as the lone government to have abandoned Paris, and sending a strong signal towards COP24,” said Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan.

“But while the G19 held the line, what it must do now is step up action and prove that it has heard the voices of the vulnerable countries who only just last week at their own summit demanded accelerated climate action. Actions speak loudest and this is the task that falls to COP24, where the Paris Agreement must be put to work and climate action ramped up.

“In Katowice, at the UNFCCC, every country of the world will be gathered and called upon by the people to act on the latest climate science. In another year of devastating climate impacts, the message from the IPCC’s 1.5°C special report is simple: we still have hope, but we must act now or condemn millions to suffering.

“What future awaits us? That’s the question tasked to world leaders at COP24. They are the last politicians who are aware of the risks and still have the time and possibility to act. How will they be remembered? All of them are on notice.” – Morgan

In the end, it’s not as bad as it could have been, but far from anywhere near where it should be.

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Joshua S Hill

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.

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