A group of countries including Germany and France, and oil giants Russia-Saudi Arabia are set to muster what seems to be a joint defense against the Trump administration on the issue of the Paris Climate Accord. Now the question is, who will win? Observers watch with keen eyes as the major economies gather up for the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.
Ever since Trump’s announcement of pulling out of the climate accord that 196 more countries have agreed to, G20 members including India, China, France, Canada, Italy and bloc president Germany, have shown their support for the agreement even more firmly.
“At this summit what the Germans and the rest of us want is basically to isolate the US so that the US doesn’t contaminate any other countries,” said Mohamed Adow of Christian Aid, an expert observer of the two-decade negotiation that culminated in the Paris Agreement in 2015. The G20 includes the G7 as well as developing nations such as China, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, and Indonesia.
It matters because the world’s biggest oil producers, Russia and Saudi Arabia as well as India took a lot of efforts and convincing to sign the agreement in the first place.
“Trump has potential allies there: Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Russia,” said Celia Gautier of the Climate Action Network, an NGO grouping.
The remaining countries need to be more than just reaffirm their commitment. They need to support through their speech and actions. Otherwise, Trump would think he has succeeded in weakening the G20 outcome. However, this geopolitical turmoil may turn out to be a blessing eventually. It will keep countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia, who are already in crises with Qatar and Syria, from picking a new fight on climate.
The question remains: whether these countries will speak with one voice or splinter?
The G20 summits are not meant for direction changing decisions. Rather they are a gauge of mood and a barometer of thinking on issues, which will aid in long term effects. For instance, it is better to use non-polluting energy sources like the Sun and wind instead of opting for sources that would cause less pollution.
The G20 represents majority of the global GDP and energy related CO2 emissions. The threshold for a livable planet is the average global warming of two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels. The Paris Act aims at making countries limit their global warming effects limit to this threshold.
Trump’s stepping back can only be answered with other countries stepping up. But there’s bad news. A report stated that G20 fossil fuel investment was not in line with the 2-degree C goal. That means although renewable energy usage is increasing, coal and other fossil fuels still dominate the G20’s energy mix. Indeed the average growth of greenhouse gas emissions is slowing, but it is not yet in decline – said Niklas Hohne of the NewClimate Institute.