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Sunday 20 August 2017

Chinese premier leads calls to keep up fight against global warming

Chinese premier Li Keqiang speaks during a joint press conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin (AP)
Chinese premier Li Keqiang speaks during a joint press conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin (AP)

China has led international calls to keep up the fight against global warming, hours before US president Donald Trump announces whether he will pull out of the Paris climate accord.

Chinese premier Li Keqiang said in Berlin that fighting global warming is a "global consensus" and an "international responsibility".

Without mentioning the US specifically, Mr Li said that "China in recent years has stayed true to its commitment", and pointed out that it was one of the first countries to ratify the 2015 Paris Agreement.

German chancellor Angela Merkel, who has in the past even been dubbed the "climate chancellor" for her efforts to fight global warming, welcomed Mr Li's remarks at their joint press conference.

Other European leaders issued more explicit appeals to the US government not to abandon international measures against climate change.

European Council president Donald Tusk tweeted: "Please don't change the (political) climate for the worse."

Mr Trump is expected to announce his decision on Thursday afternoon US time (8pm BST).

Abandoning the pact would isolate the US from a raft of international allies who spent years negotiating the 2015 agreement to fight global warming and pollution by reducing carbon emissions.

While travelling abroad last week, Mr Trump was repeatedly pressed to stay in the deal by European leaders as well as Pope Francis.

Withdrawing would leave the US as one of just three countries outside the agreement, with the other two being Syria and Nicaragua.

Russia joined the chorus speaking out in favour of the climate accord.

A spokesman for President Vladimir Putin said Russia "thinks highly" of the accords and sees no alternative to it.

Dmitry Peskov added that its implementation will not be as effective "without the key signatories".

During a trip to Europe this week, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi expressed India's commitment to fighting climate change and said it would be a "crime" to spoil the environment for future generations.

Martin Schulz, a former European Parliament president who is hoping to unseat Mrs Merkel in Germany's upcoming general election, said he hoped Mr Trump would think better of withdrawing from the accord.

If the US does leave, he said, the European Union should seek ways to balance out the economic advantage that US companies might have from the absence of climate regulations.

"Those who want to export their goods and services to our market also have to accept our standards," he added.

Scientists say the planet is likely to reach more dangerous levels of warming sooner if the US retreats from its pledge, because America contributes so much to rising temperatures.

Calculations suggest withdrawal could release up to three billion additional tonnes of carbon dioxide a year - enough to melt ice sheets faster, raise sea levels and trigger more extreme weather.

Press Association

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