Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Summit shows strains over climate change



Summit shows strains over climate change

Summit shows strains over climate change

Strains over climate change marked the end of the G20 summit in Argentina on Saturday as the US celebrated what it called a victory for its holdout stance.

A final communique adopted at the summit in Argentina said all other G20 members agreed to implement the “irreversible” Paris Agreement on climate change.

A paragraph in the statement noted: “The United States reiterates its decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.”

Beyond entrenching their position, US officials said they saw growing dissent, even if the communique still resulted in a 19 versus 1 declaration backing the Paris climate pact.

The “coalition” against the US on climate change was beginning to fray, a senior White House official said, adding that several countries, including Turkey, Russia and Saudi Arabia, had balked at signing the document before finally backing it.

“We had a paragraph where we specifically preserved and explained our position for why we’re withdrawing from the job-killing Paris Agreement,” the official said on condition of anonymity, repeating President Donald Trump’s denunciations of the accord as bad for US business interests.

“What you’re starting to see is you’re seeing a little bit of the coalition fraying. Countries like Turkey, like Saudi Arabia, like Russia might be second-guessing some of that.”

“I think across the board it was really a resounding success.”

Breathing life into the pact

Outside the US, which joined the Paris deal under former president Barack Obama, the biggest polluter not to have ratified the 2015 Paris Agreement is Russia, which ranks fifth. Turkey and Iran have also failed to ratify.

A French source close to the negotiations said earlier that “a certain number of countries” were hesitating “to confirm their commitment to the Paris accord, so it was one of the big battles of the night to keep the pack of 19.”

The feud comes despite mounting signs of the impact of climate change, with a major US government report last week saying that the country’s economy could be sliced by 10 per cent by the end of the century without major action.

Thomas Bernes, senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Canada and a former G20 negotiator, also said that objections from Turkey and the Saudis had contributed to holding up the final
communique.

The statement stressed the need to respect different paces of economic development, as developing economies balk at going further on their Paris pledges.

“But in the end, it’s still 19 v 1,” said Bernes.

He said Brazilian far-right president-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who takes office on January 1, would be unlikely to help G20 consensus on climate.

Bolsonaro has threatened to follow Trump’s example and withdraw his country from the Paris Agreement.

The differences laid bare in Buenos Aires came a day before UN climate talks were to get underway on the other side of the world in the Polish city of Katowice.

The COP24 is seeking to breathe new life into the pact, in which nations agreed to hold global warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius over pre-Industrial Revolution levels, and to strive for a lower limit of 1.5C, if​ possible.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration