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

  • PM to vet NY holiday dates

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance submitted a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him to formally set a five-day national holiday from August 17-21 to make up for the Khmer New Year holiday in April that was postponed. Finance minister Aun Pornmoniroth sent

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Snaring may spawn diseases

    The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned that snaring of animals has become a crisis that poses a serious risk to wildlife in Southeast Asia and could spawn the transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans. Its July 9 report entitled Silence of the Snares: Southeast Asia’

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post

  • Residence cards set for over 80,000 immigrants

    The Ministry of Interior plans to grant residence cards to more than 80,000 immigrants to better keep track of them. The ministry announced the plan on July 10, following the results of an immigration census. “An inter-ministerial committee and many operational working groups have been set up

  • Kingdom produces PPE gear

    Medical supplies from Cambodia have been donated to member countries of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to assist in the fight against Covid-19, said an ADB report published on July 9. The report stated that the supplies were donated as a response to global efforts to

  • Kingdom, US vow stronger ties

    At an academic forum on Saturday to celebrate 70 years of Cambodia-US diplomatic ties, Cambodian researchers and officials expressed hope of encouraging US investments and for that country to deepen and improve its bilateral relations. Held at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, it reviewed the past 70

  • Fifteen Cambodians from Saudi get Covid-19

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed 15 more imported cases of Covid. The 15 men ‒ all Cambodian aged 21 to 33 ‒ arrived from Saudi Arabia on Friday via a connecting flight in Malaysia. They were travelling with 79 other passengers, three of them women. The ministry said 80 of the

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea