Tuesday 19 September 2017

European nations line up behind Paris climate change accord ahead of G20 summit

Demonstrators of the Avaaz campaign protest against the climate policy of US President Donald Trump prior to a gathering of European leaders on the upcoming G-20 summit in the chancellery in Berlin (AP)
Demonstrators of the Avaaz campaign protest against the climate policy of US President Donald Trump prior to a gathering of European leaders on the upcoming G-20 summit in the chancellery in Berlin (AP)

European leaders said they are ready to defend the Paris climate accord and free trade when they face President Donald Trump at the G20 summit.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Europe was "more determined than ever" to see the climate deal succeed.

The Trump administration's "America First" approach to trade has caused widespread concern internationally, as has its decision to pull out of the Paris accord.

Mr Trump announced the withdrawal shortly after returning from last month's G7 summit in Italy.

Ms Merkel told the German parliament that "we cannot expect easy talks in Hamburg" on climate issues when leaders of the G20 global economic powers meet in the city on July 7 and 8.

"The disagreement is obvious, and it would be dishonest to gloss over it," she said.

"I won't do that, in any case."

Still, meeting later on Thursday with European participants in the G20, she sought to downplay prospects of an outright clash with Mr Trump.

She and French President Emmanuel Macron said there is agreement on issues such as fighting terrorism and they will seek joint solutions.

Mr Trump announced on June 1 he was pulling the US from the Paris deal.

The US could try to rejoin the agreement under more favourable terms or work to establish "an entirely new transaction", Mr Trump said.

After meeting the leaders of Britain, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Norway and the European Union in Berlin, Ms Merkel said they were "united" behind the climate accord.

Mr Macron underlined the Europeans' "very strong commitment" to the Paris deal.

He said he had "at least the hope, in any case, that one or another will be brought to reason and can follow us".

However, Ms Merkel stressed that "the United States of America is an important part of the G20, and we will do everything to work together while not papering over differences".

The chancellor was not hesitant to demonstrate the scope of Europe's differences with the current US administration over the Paris accord's goals for curbing carbon emissions and global warming.

In her speech to German lawmakers, Ms Merkel said that "since the decision by the United States of America to leave the Paris climate accord, we are more determined than ever to lead it to success".

"The Paris agreement is irreversible and it is not negotiable," she said.

Later, though, Ms Merkel brushed off a question about the chances of G20 members except Mr Trump drawing up a statement on climate change.

"I don't want to participate in speculation today about 'what happens if'," she said.

"The message is that we want to find solutions together, even though we know that in some questions, for example the climate question, it is not very easy."

Mr Macron said that "it is no use isolating a state".

"We do not share his view of things on this subject," he added, speaking about the climate accord.

"But it is always preferable to make a joint declaration and leave open the opportunity to countries around the table to sign up in the medium term."

Mr Macron has invited Mr Trump to attend Bastille Day celebrations in Paris on July 14.

He stressed that "the relationship with the United States is a long-term one. It is a deep relationship in numerous areas which allows us today, despite everything, to share disagreements."

Ms Merkel argued that the G20 - a forum that rose to prominence in the wake of the global financial crisis - is needed more than ever because countries working together can change things far more effectively than with unco-ordinated national policies.

"Anyone who thinks that they can solve the problems of this world with isolationism and protectionism is making an enormous mistake," she told lawmakers.

AP

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