While leaders of 19 countries of the G20 group, including India, reaffirmed their faith in the Paris deal, calling it “irreversible”, the US stood by itself.
NEW DELHI: The divide between the United States and rest of the world on the Paris Agreement on climate change was further formalised with the G20 declaration in Hamburgtaking note of the US intent to withdraw from the global deal.
While leaders of 19 countries of the G20 group, including India, reaffirmed their faith in the Paris deal, calling it “irreversible”, the US stood by itself. The US did manage to get its position on fossil fuels inserted in the joint statement through a formulation promising more efforts for “clean and efficient” use without any commitment to its end.
The reference to fossil fuels should not cause any particular discomfort to India as it will continue to use coal for power even as it has declared that it will pursue cleaner technology and also ramp up its renewable energy capacity by 2030.
“India’s position remains that we need more time to process (proceed) completely to clean fuel,” Niti Aayog deputy chairperson Arvind Panagariya, India’s sherpa at the G20 summit, was quoted as saying by a news agency. He noted that negotiations on the G20 communiqué took longer due to differences on some issues, including climate change.
The divide over climate change and the sharp differences, particularly between Trump and west European leaders, were clearly evident. “Disagreement has to be made clear. Unfortunately, and I deplore this, the US left the climate agreement,” noted German Chancellor Angela Merkel. French President Emmanuel Macron said, “Our world has never been so divided.”
While climate change was contentious, the G20 managed a compromise on trade where Trump’s protectionist sentiment and call for free trade was accommodated. The G20 recognised the “importance of reciprocal and mutually advantageous trade and investment” but also took on board concerns over trade imbalances by noting the role of legitimate trade defence instruments to combat unfair practices.
Noting the US decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the declaration said, “The leaders of the other G20 members state that the Paris Agreement is irreversible… We reaffirm our strong commitment to the Paris Agreement, moving swiftly towards its full implementation…”
However, it accommodated the US on fossil fuels. It said, “The USA states it will endeavour to work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently…”, the point which remained a bone of contention with the rest of the G20 while drafting the declaration through much of Saturday.
Panagariya sought to finesse the differences and said, “There were differences but nobody was isolated… The US position on climate change remains different from that of other countries and it wants inclusion of fossil fuel.”
Green activists and global thinktanks on climate and clean energy issue saw the outcome differently, terming it a victory of the rest of the world with the “isolation” of US President Donald Trump.
“In the end, it was a landslide victory for countries voicing support for global climate action… President Trump continued to isolate himself by not signing onto the Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth, showing just how out of touch the administration is on this issue,” said Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the US-based World Resources Institute, in a statement.
The Paris Agreement was adopted by 195 countries in December, 2015. It had come into force in November last year after many countries, including the US, had ratified it. President Trump had, however, last month decided to withdraw from the deal.
Though the US would not be technically able to withdraw from it before November, 2020, the Trump administration’s decision had immediately ceased the implementation of its current nationally determined contribution.
Source : The Economic Times