Monday 24 July 2017

Trump left in the cold at G20

World leaders stand firm on Paris Agreement, but that still leaves Donald Trump outside the tent

Climate bill: US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a panel discussion on women entrepreneurs, held as part of the G20 summit yesterday in Hamburg Photo: Michael Ukas/Getty
Climate bill: US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a panel discussion on women entrepreneurs, held as part of the G20 summit yesterday in Hamburg Photo: Michael Ukas/Getty

Gordon Rayner

US President Donald Trump defied other world leaders over climate change last night as he refused to renege on his decision to leave the Paris Agreement on greenhouse gas emissions.

Trump had hoped that some of the other members of the G20, such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, would be tempted to join him by walking away from the Paris accord, brokered by the United Nations in 2015.

First daughter: Ivanka Trump, adviser to the US President Photo: Getty Images
First daughter: Ivanka Trump, adviser to the US President Photo: Getty Images

A succession of leaders tried to persuade him to rejoin the deal during conversations at the summit in Hamburg. After he refused to do so, the other G20 countries issued a communique stating that the Paris Agreement was "irreversible", while the US conceded that emissions must be reduced. And the final version had to contain separate paragraphs setting out the positions of the US and the rest of the G20.

Last month Trump announced America had withdrawn from the Paris Agreement, but said he intended to negotiate a re-entry or an entirely new accord "on terms that are fair to the US".

Instead, Trump said America would seek its own alternative path to cleaner energy.

Diplomats from the G20 nations worked through the night on Friday in an attempt to agree the wording of the climate change section of the final summit communique. It said: "We take note of the decision of the US to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. The US affirms its strong commitment to an approach that lowers emissions while supporting economic growth and improving energy security needs. The leaders of the other G20 members state that the Paris Agreement is irreversible."

Other G20 leaders were quick to distance themselves from a paragraph put in at Trump's insistence, saying the US would work with others to "help them use fossil fuels more cleanly".

At one point during the talks, French president Emmanuel Macron pulled out his mobile phone and waved it around to make the point that a phone bought by a Frenchman in the US but made in China showed the nature of global trade and the need to avoid protectionism.

Angela Merkel, who pledged in advance as host that the summit would defend the Paris Agreement, admitted the talks had been "difficult". The German chancellor repeated the line that "Europe must take its fate into its own hands" - which she also said after meeting with Mr Trump at the G7 in Italy.

"I can only call things as they are," she said. "There are certain areas where we have achieved good results, but I don't want to hide from you that things are still very difficult on trade. I can't make any predictions about what will happen tomorrow or the day after."

Mrs Merkel was left defending her decision to hold the G20 in a major city centre after a second night of riots saw an entire neighbourhood under the control of anti-capitalist protesters for several hours.

Many local residents of Schanzenviertel, just outside the summit venue, were left to fend for themselves as protesters looted and torched shops, including several international clothing stores.

More than 20,000 people took part in largely peaceful protests in the city yesterday afternoon. "We were aware of the peaceful protests, which remind us that many people out there expect results," Mrs Merkel said.

"We have to make a very clear distinction between peaceful protest, which spurs us on and encourages us, and this sort of blind fury. It appears there were some people who have no interest in real progress, but who just want to destroy."

Separately, Russian president Vladimir Putin hailed his first face-to-face meeting with Trump, saying he believes the US leader accepted his assurances that Russia did not meddle in last year's US election.

Mr Putin added that their conversation could serve as a model for improving ties between the two countries.

Speaking to reporters after the two-day G20 summit ended, Putin said he and Trump had a long discussion about the allegations of Russian interference in last year's election which have dogged the Trump presidency.

The Russian leader explained that he reiterated his "well-known" position that "there are no grounds" for the allegations.

"He asked many questions on the subject, I tried to answer them all," Putin said. "It seems to me that he has taken note of that and agreed, but it's better to ask him..."

US intelligence agencies have concluded that the Russian government helped direct a sophisticated effort to tilt the 2016 presidential election in Trump's favor. Trump has been reluctant to accept that conclusion.

"It could very well have been Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries," Trump said as recently as Thursday. "I think a lot of people interfere. I think it's been happening for a long time."

The US agencies say Russian hackers stole and released emails with the intent to damage Hillary Clinton and help Trump. Since the election, there have been breaches of other computer systems in the US, many of which are suspected to be tied to Russia.

Telegraph.co.uk

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