News World Donald Trump is the climate outcast as G20 leaders back Paris pact

Donald Trump is the climate outcast as G20 leaders back Paris pact

US President Donald Trump wears a smirk with Germany's Angela Merkel, who used the G20 summit to advance action on climate change. AP: Ryan Remiorz
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The final statement of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, has underlined that the other countries and the European Union supported the Paris climate agreement rejected by Mr Trump.

They called the deal to reduce greenhouse gases “irreversible” and vowed to implement it quickly and without exception.

The other countries, from European powers like Germany to emerging ones such as China and energy producers epiomised by Saudi Arabia, merely “took note” of the US position, which was boxed off in a separate paragraph.

Summit host German Chancellor Angela Merkel made clear the separate paragraph applied only to the United States.

She said the US position was “regrettable” but that the summit had achieved “good results in some areas”, and cited a hard-won agreement on trade that does include Mr Trump and the United States.

To square the circle of Mr Trump’s denialism, summit deputies hashed out a three-part fudge that everyone could sign.

That meant a first section with a broad pledge to fight climate change in general; a separate paragraph carved out that acknowledged the US did not support the Paris deal; and a third paragraph in which the other 19 members of the G20 group reaffirmed their support for the deal.

Advocates for efforts against climate change expressed relief that the other countries had remained unanimous in support of the Paris accords.

“The US has obviously been clear about where it stands with the Paris Agreement, but it is heartening that 19 other countries reaffirmed their commitment to the agreement,” said Thoriq Ibrahim, minister of energy and environment for the Maldives and Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, a group of countries vulnerable to the effects of global warming.

Failure to agree on climate does not stop countries from moving ahead in meeting the Paris agreement’s goals, or exceed them if they want to. Additionally, US states and private companies can pursue lower emissions on their own.

G20 agreements are statements of intent and rely on governments themselves to follow through. Still, they set the tone for global policymaking and enable peer pressure when they are not followed.

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