A gathering of global economic powers concluded on Saturday with the United States standing alone as the sole country that declined to sign onto a communique addressing climate policy issues — confirming fears that, in the Trump era, the G20 will devolve into the G19 without the United States.
The 19 other members of the G20 all reaffirmed their commitment to combating climate change through the Paris climate agreement, which the United States withdrew from earlier this year, ignoring the position of the scientific community and nearly every other country in the world.
The joint summit statement acknowledges the United States’ decision to pull out of the agreement, but notes the rest of the countries at the summit still believe “the Paris Agreement is irreversible” and remain committed to doing their part to slow the effects of global warming.
Discussions over climate policy deadlocked the last day of talks at the summit, according to BBC reporting, and other global leaders didn’t hide their disappointment with the United States’ refusal to budge.
“Wherever there is no consensus that can be achieved, disagreement has to be made clear,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who hosted the G20 summit in Hamburg, said in remarks concluding the event. “Unfortunately, and I deplore this, the United States of America left the climate agreement.”
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The statement includes a line reading, “The United States of America states it will endeavour to work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently and help deploy renewable and other clean energy sources, given the importance of energy access and security in their nationally determined contributions.”
Climate change was perhaps the most contentious point of disagreement in Hamburg, but this week’s summit ultimately left European leaders and traditional U.S. allies concerned about their ability to come to consensus with the United States’ government on a range of issues.
In addition to leaving the Paris Agreement, President Donald Trump has also pushed to withdraw the United States from major trade deals, leaving other world powers to forge ahead on several fronts without him. Immediately before the G20 kicked off, for example, a new trade deal between Japan and the European Union essentially snubbed the United States.
“Our world has never been so divided,” French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters as the G20 summit reached its conclusion on Saturday. “Centripetal forces have never been so powerful. Our common goods have never been so threatened.”