08 Jul 2017, 00:00
Sven Egenter Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

G20 special: Merkel - G20 communiqué clearly shows dissent on climate

G20 leaders at the start of the Hamburg summit talks. Source - CLEW 2017.
G20 leaders at the start of the Hamburg summit talks. Source - CLEW 2017.
Special news digest updated throughout the Hamburg summit days.

G20/ Clean Energy Wire

The final communiqué of the G20 group of leading industrialised and emerging countries clearly reflects the dissent between the United States and the other 19 members on climate protection, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a press conference after the 2-day summit in Hamburg. While the statement noted the “regrettable” US decision to leave the Paris climate agreement, she was “glad” that the other 19 members agreed that the agreement was “irreversible” and signed up to a joint climate and energy action plan, Merkel said. The final statement still includes a mention of fossil fuels, which the United States had pushed for. Merkel stressed that no other participant shared the US position on the issue, and the final version made the different views very clear. Merkel told the press conference that she did not share the optimism some had voiced that the US might revisit its decision to leave the Paris Agreement.

Find the final G20 communiqué here and the climate and energy action plan here.   CLEW

Reuters/ Clean Energy Wire

The United States’ insistence to include a reference to fossil fuels in the section on climate policy in the G20 communiqué remains the final sticking point to finish the document, news agency Reuters reported. Sources close to the process confirmed to the Clean Energy that the line in dispute read that the US would “endeavor to work closely with other partners to help their access to and use of fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently", and some Europeans still worked to get the mention of fossil fuels dropped.

Find the Reuters story here.


German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble cited the fact that the large majority of G20 countries showed clear commitment to the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement in the Hamburg summit talks as proof that the summit was a success. In an interview with German broadcaster ARD, Schäuble said: “I believe that this summit is a success. The atmosphere is very good, and in the talks, problems were not ignored. Regarding climate protection, for example, it was clear that the large majority – independent of the announcement of one country – will determinedly continue down the path of Paris Agreement implementation.” Schäuble said the “unilateral decision by the US president will not in the least stop the global process; that everyone says ‘We’ll continue just like before, we must stand by Paris.’” He was “encouraged” by the fact that “the determination of the large majority in the world to now do more against climate change, rather grew.”

Watch the video of the interview in German here.

Press and Information Office of the German Government

Climate and Energy have been the most debated G20 topics discussed on social media on the first day of this year’s summit in Hamburg according to data provided by the Press and Information Office of the German Government. The office counted 16,881 posts linked to the G20 that concerned “climate and energy”, followed by “international trade” with 9,419 posts on 7 July. Other official topics debated were terrorism, the Africa partnership and financial markets. The government’s press office looked at posts made on Twitter, news websites, Instagram, facebook, YouTube and others, wither Twitter by far outweighing other platforms in terms of G20-related posting.


The G20 group of leading industrialised and emerging countries have agreed on a joint communique at the summit in Hamburg, though leaders had still to iron out one last “wrinkle” in the climate section, news agency Reuters reported, citing an EU official. News website Spiegel Online wrote, the communique would contain three paragraphs on climate and energy: all G20 would underscore the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, take then note of the United States wanted to leave the Paris Agreement on climate, before stating that the other 19 were committed to implement the deal.

Find the Reuters story here and the Spiegel Online news blog here.

7 July - Clean Energy Wire

The wording on climate policies in the final G20 communiqué was still not decided, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters at a press conference after leaders met to discuss the issue. The “large majority” of G20 members expressed their commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement during the working session at the Hamburg summit, she said. “On this issue as well, it will be interesting how we formulate the communiqué tomorrow, and make clear that there are obviously differences in this area, because the Unites States of America want to leave the Paris Agreement, regrettably. And that – of course – plays a role in the discussions,” she said. Before leaving the room for a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump had taken part in the beginning of the climate working session, and had made a contribution, Merkel said. “What the communiqué will look like and how the different opinions will be sorted out, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow,” she told reporters.

G20 heads of state and government at the Hamburg summit. Source - Bundesregierung/Steins 2017.

7 July - Reuters / Russian Government

The BRICS group of powerful emerging economies add pressure on US President Donald Trump by urging an implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement at the G20 summit in Germany, news agency Reuters reports. In a joint communiqué issued by the Russian government, Brazil, Russia, China and India call on other G20 members to back the agreement rejected by the US administration and also to endorse open global trade, the article says. "We call upon the international community to jointly work towards implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change according to the principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities," the document reads.
In a separate article, Reuters reports that Chinese president Xi Jinping said the agreement was “an important consensus that doesn't come easily and must not be given up easily.”

See the articles in English here and here.

Find the communiqué issued by Russia in English here.

7 July - Clean Energy Wire

The T20 group of international think tanks are hoping for “G17, G18, G19” solution on the disputed issue of climate protection, where “we know that some of us are moving in the wrong direction”, but the rest grew closer together in their push forward, Dirk Messner, Director of the German Development Institute (DIE), said in a press briefing at the sidelines of the summit. In an increasingly interconnected and globalised world, multilateral cooperation such as within the G20 forum was the only way to solve many issues the world faces, Messner as well as Dennis Snower, president of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, said. Climate change was one of the issues and it “could be resolved very easily if we understood this is a public good and the returns simply needed to be distributed properly”.

Dirk Messner, Director of the German Development Institute (DIE) and Dennis Snower, president of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy at the G20 Media Centre. Source - CLEW 2017.

7 July - Clean Energy Wire

The G20 leaders must show readiness for compromise at the Hamburg summit, “without bending their own positions too much”, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her opening remarks to leaders of the world’s largest economies, ahead of the first working session on global growth and trade. Millions of people were following the talks from all over the world in the hopes that the G20 would do their part to deal with their concerns, fears and needs, she said. The Sherpas had worked hard to find solutions in the run up to the summit and were facing another sleepless night ahead, said Merkel.

7 July - ZDF

For Germans, climate change topped the list of the most pressing global issues for G20 to fix, a poll by public broadcaster ZDF showed. Thirty-three percent put solutions to climate change at the top of the list, 29 percent said the migrant crisis was the most urgent issue, followed by terrorism (27 percent) and free trade (7 percent). But 78 percent of those polled expected no impetus from the G20 on those issues, only 10 percent expected progress, while 10 percent feared the G20 would be falling back.

Find the poll here.

For Germans, climate change topped the list of the most pressing global issues for G20 to fix - ZDF poll. Source - ZDF 2017.

7 July - Clean Energy Wire

The topic of climate change should be “treated with utmost intensity and seriousness” at the Hamburg Summit, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said at a press conference before official talks began. Juncker said he was “thankful” that German Chancellor Angela Merkel presided over the summit. “Looking at the situation, she will have to pull her full weight, but Ms Merkel knows that she cannot and does not have to do it alone,” said Juncker.

7 July - Spiegel/ZDF/German government

US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin are set to miss the G20 leaders’ discussion on climate and energy as they have scheduled their first personal meeting during the working session, German news website Spiegel Online reports. German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the G20 leaders for the summit in Hamburg, where protests turned violent overnight and protesters clashed with police. Merkel told the press on Thursday night that there were various options on the table with regards to a commitment to the Paris Agreement for the final statement, adding that the Sherpas - the G20 leaders top-negotiators – still had “some work to do over the coming two nights”. News agencies have reported that the G20 were working on a compromise that would allow the United States to agree on the final communiqué while taking note of the US president’s decision to leave the international climate deal. But close observers of the negotiations have told the Clean Energy Wire that discussions were still ongoing. German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel told TV station ZDF on Thursday after a meeting with Trump and Merkel that the climate issue remained “clearly disputed”.

Find background on the G20 climate and energy transition issues in the Clean Energy Wire dossier.

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
« previous news next news »


Sven Egenter

Researching a story? Drop CLEW a line or give us a call for background material and contacts.

+49 30 62858 497

Journalism for the energy transition

Get our Newsletter
Join our Network
Find an interviewee