Trump proves ob­sta­cle to global agree­ment on cli­mate change, writes An­gela Charlton

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - Worldwide - © Press As­so­ci­a­tion

LEAD­ERS of the G20 have agreed to fix the world trad­ing sys­tem — but only 19 of them will sup­port the Paris ac­cord on fight­ing cli­mate change.

Ap­plause rose up in the hall last night as the lead­ers signed off on a fi­nal state­ment at the end of a two-day sum­mit. The state­ment ac­knowl­edges flaws in the world trad­ing sys­tem and calls for re­form­ing the World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WTO) — but does not men­tion pro­tec­tion­ism be­cause, ne­go­tia­tors said, the US had re­sisted that.

The state­ment says 19 of the mem­bers re­it­er­ated their com­mit­ment to the Paris cli­mate ac­cord — but the US re­it­er­ated its de­ci­sion to with­draw.

The non-bind­ing agree­ment was reached af­ter dif­fi­cult all-night talks by di­plo­mats. The US had been the main hold­out on nearly ev­ery is­sue, of­fi­cials pre­vi­ously said, as US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has crit­i­cised the WTO and taken ag­gres­sive trade poli­cies tar­get­ing China and the EU.

China also pushed back in talks on steel, South Africa ob­jected to lan­guage on trade, Aus­tralia did not want the state­ment to be too soft on mi­gra­tion and Turkey wor­ried it would push too far on cli­mate change, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cials.

Ac­cord­ing to Eu­ro­pean of­fi­cials, the US ne­go­tia­tor said too much talk about mi­gra­tion would have been a “deal-breaker” for Mr Trump.

This led to them com­ing up with “min­i­mal­ist” lan­guage that ac­knowl­edges grow­ing mi­grant flows and the im­por­tance of shared ef­forts to sup­port refugees and solve the prob­lems that drive them to flee.

The state­ment also shows a com­mit­ment to a “rules­based in­ter­na­tional or­der,” de­spite Mr Trump’s re­jec­tion of many of those rules.

“There were mo­ments when we thought all was lost,” one EU of­fi­cial said, “mo­ments when we spent two hours on one sen­tence.”

Per­haps sur­pris­ingly, one coun­try seen as par­tic­u­larly con­struc­tive was Rus­sia, the of­fi­cials added. De­spite ten­sions over its mil­i­tary ac­tions on Ukraine and po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence abroad, Rus­sia sup­ports in­ter­na­tional ef­forts on trade and cli­mate.

While a state­ment is not legally en­force­able, the Eu­ro­peans see it as proof the G20 is still rel­e­vant and mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism still works.

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel said: “Ev­ery­one agrees that the WTO should be re­formed. This is an im­por­tant agree­ment.”

“We will send a clear sig­nal — in any case, most of us” — for the suc­cess of global cli­mate talks start­ing in Poland to­day, Ms Merkel added.

Her spokesman said that dur­ing a meet­ing with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, she also voiced con­cern about ris­ing ten­sions in the Kerch Strait off Crimea and pushed for “free­dom of ship­ping into the Sea of Azov”.

Last week­end, Rus­sia seized three Ukrainian naval ves­sels and their crews in an in­ci­dent es­ca­lat­ing a tug-ofwar that be­gan in 2014 when Rus­sia an­nexed Ukraine’s Crimean Penin­sula and sup­ported sep­a­ratist rebels in east­ern Ukraine.

Ger­many and France have sought to me­di­ate be­tween Rus­sia and Ukraine, and spokesman St­ef­fen Seib­ert said Ms Merkel and Mr Putin agreed the four coun­tries should hold fur­ther talks at the “ad­viser level”.

Ms Merkel also said she hopes a meet­ing be­tween the US and Chi­nese lead­ers will help re­solve trade ten­sions be­tween the two coun­tries. Mr Trump and Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping were due to meet last night on the side­lines of the sum­mit in Buenos Aires.

Ms Merkel told re­porters it is im­por­tant the talks “hope­fully bring so­lu­tions, be­cause all of us see that we are af­fected in­di­rectly when Chi­nese-Amer­i­can eco­nomic re­la­tions are not as fric­tion­less as a world or­der re­quires”.

The di­vi­sions among the world’s lead­ing economies were ev­i­dent from the mo­ment Ar­gentina’s pres­i­dent opened the sum­mit on Fri­day with a call for in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion to solve the planet’s prob­lems.

In clos­ing re­marks, sum­mit host and Ar­gen­tine Pres­i­dent Mauri­cio Macri said the coun­tries had over­come “a num­ber of chal­lenges” to reach the agree­ment.

He said: “We have agreed on a state­ment that re­flects the ne­ces­sity of re­vi­tal­is­ing trade, of re­vi­tal­is­ing the WTO.

“We rat­ify the con­cern of ev­ery­one over cli­mate change.”

The next G20 sum­mit is to be held in Osaka, Ja­pan, in June 2019.

Aside from trade, French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron yes­ter­day said that he told Saudi Ara­bia’s Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man that G20 na­tions wanted “clar­ity on the facts of the Khashoggi case”.

The mur­der by Saudi Ara­bia of jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi has strained Saudi Ara­bia’s ties with the West and bat­tered the prince’s im­age abroad.

Turkey’s Pres­i­dent Er­do­gan later said dis­cus­sion of the Khashoggi mur­der was not part of the G20 sum­mit.

ALL SMILES: Saudi Ara­bia’s Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man talks with Rus­sia’s Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin at the G20

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