Efforts in Hamburg to rally 19 countries to the Paris Agreement were successful, but deeper ambition feels further away

G20 leaders gathered in Hamburg but left divided over climate by the US (Photo: Office of the Russian president)

The G20 meeting in Hamburg saw grave risks to the momentum of global climate action, posed by the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement, and US efforts to ‘peel off’ other less committed nations.

The worst was averted as 19 out of 20 global leaders reaffirmed their recognition that there is no turning back from the need to take action on climate change, the opportunities this presents and stressed their determination to stand firm on the aims of the Paris Agreement. But, although the global framework for climate action survived, much more still needs to be done.

Overall, the G20’s final outcome document demonstrates how isolated the Trump administration has become, particularly where climate action is concerned.

The meeting’s German presidency worked hard to ensure that the other 19 major world economies maintained their complete backing for the Paris Agreement making it clear that the landmark climate deal was ‘irreversible’. In terms of the international recognition of the seriousness of the global challenge of climate change it is at least somewhat encouraging that it was the issue of this summit.

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The US had wanted the communiqué to include language on behalf of all G20 nations that support would be forthcoming to help other countries ‘access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently’ but this, fortunately, was avoided. Instead any pressure to turn the clock back and depend on carbon intensive fuels has been acknowledged as a unilateral, backward move on behalf of an isolated state. This marks an important and significant success in containing the damage that the US position continues to cause.

Before the summit, France took the lead in signalling that real climate action is unstoppable and will continue with its eye-catching announcement on ending the sale of diesel and gasoline vehicles by 2040 and after with the announcement that it…