US isolated over climate stance at G20 meeting in Hamburg

Published by Niall Sargent on

July 10th, 2017

The United States’ isolated stance on climate change was made clear at this weekend’s G20 meeting in Hamburg as the other nineteen world leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Accord.

The final G20 joint statement – produced after lengthy negotiations lasting until noon on Saturday – outlines the “strong commitment to the Paris agreement” of all G20 countries bar the US – dubbed the G19.

The statement was complemented by plans to phase out fossil fuel subsidies and shift countries towards “affordable, reliable, sustainable and low greenhouse gas emission energy systems as soon as feasible”.

Agreed at the COP21 meeting in November 2015, the Paris Agreement aims to limit global average temperature to within 2°C above pre-industrial levels and combat the unavoidable impacts on people and the Earth.

The communique notes the decision by the US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the “irreversible” Paris climate agreement.

“The United States of America announced it will immediately cease the implementation of its current nationally-determined contribution and affirms its strong commitment to an approach that lowers emissions while supporting economic growth and improving energy security needs,” the communique reads.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, was far more critical of the decision during a press briefing on Saturday, stating that she “deplored” Mr Trump’s decision.

“We amended the declaration and it says very clearly what the United States of America want and underneath what the other countries want,” she added.  “It’s absolutely clear it is not a common position.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May, criticised for previously stating that the US could decide to re-join the agreement at a later date, said that she was “dismayed” at the decision. She also restated the UK’s strong commitment to the pact.

The US is estimated to be responsible for 15 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, second only to China as the world’s main emitter.

The decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement puts the US in line to join only Nicaragua and Syria as non-participants in the Agreement.

Article 28 of the Agreement allows countries to withdraw from the third year after the Agreement entered into force, which would be November 2019 for the US. The withdrawal would also not take effect for another year.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London