Views on the G20 summit results on climate and energy

The G20 group of the leading industrialised and emerging economies has agreed on a statement that shows the commitment of 19 of them to implement the Paris agreement on climate protection, including a first-ever plan for action on climate and energy, while taking note of the United States decision to leave the Paris Agreement. Following are first reactions to the result of the summit. [Update adds DIE, taz, Dröge, Schott]

In the media

Süddeutsche Zeitung

“The world is capable of acting, also without the US”

It is “remarkable” that the G20 summit in Hamburg did not end up in scandal or pseudo-consensus, taking into account that Trump came across as cumbersome and worrying as “a grizzly bear among a mountaineering rope team”, writes Stefan Ulrich in an opinion piece for Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Above all, this summit sends out the message that not even the United States – still the world’s most powerful country – succeeded in dissuading the others from climate protection.” The fact that all other G20 members reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement showed that the world was “capable of acting without, and even against the USA”, writes Ulrich.

"Nice chatting isn't enough"

The fact that climate protection has been one of the most discussed topics at the G20 summit in Hamburg is “one of the paradoxical achievements of Donald Trump”, Michael Bauchmüller writes in a commentary also for Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Alas, the climate won’t be saved by talking about it,” he says. The climate and energy action plan agreed on in Hamburg “essentially is a derivation of the Paris accord” for climate protection made in 2015, Bauchmüller argues. G20 members like Germany, China, Australia, Russia, Canada, Indonesia or South Africa continue to use and produce coal unchecked, he adds. US President Trump has “already shifted the balance” so gravely that a simple “commitment to a matter of course”, namely the majority of the G20’s affirmation to eventually act on the Paris Climate Agreement, “is seen as remarkable”, he says.

Spiegel Online

“What the G20 summit did for climate protection”

The G20 summit’s G19 outcome on climate is “quite acceptable”, because a change of mind by the US president on the Paris Agreement was never really on the cards, writes Christoph Seidler for Spiegel Online. Therefore, little had changed as the countries’ commitments were not enough to limit the most dramatic consequences of climate change, writes Seidler. “However, Hamburg has brought the certainty that humanity is not veering further of course than so far,” he concludes.

tageszeitung (taz)

“The world is not saved, yet”

Even a standstill is a success in times of Donald Trump as president of the United States of America, write Malte Kreutzfeld and Ingo Arzt in an article for tageszeitung (taz). The G20 that isolated Trump on climate did not bring progress to global climate protection, but also was not a step backwards, making the summit a success in this respect, write Kreutzfeld and Arzt.

 

Other stakeholders

Brigitte Zypries, Federal Minister for the Economy and Energy

“I think the [G20 summit’s] best result has been establishing the status quo. We’ve agreed on trade […] And we’ve agreed on climate inasmuch as 19 states said ‘yes, we want climate protection.’ And the Americans, who already said in advance that they want to get out of Paris, confirmed their position […] I think internationally we’re in a situation right now in which we have to be glad if we keep talking to each other and if these talks go somewhat well.”  

Jürgen Heraeus, President of business engagement group B20

“Of course we expected a little bit more of the G20-summit […] But given the difficult negotiating situation, the communique can indeed be regarded a success, even if in many areas it does little more than establishing the status quo […] It is due to the German government’s diplomatic skills that we’ve reached consensus at all on many topics […] [Saying that the Paris Agreement is ‘irreversible'] gives our companies at least some planning security. [The B20 welcome the Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth] but we regret that it doesn’t include a mechanism for carbon pricing [which creates a ‘level playing field'].”

Axel Berger, German Development Institute (DIE)

"Let’s start with the positive. Chancellor Merkel avoided the worst possible outcome – a Gzero constellation in which the leaders of the economically most important countries could not agree on critically important issues. On climate, of course, only the G19 agreed on reaffirming the Paris Agreement while it only took note of the withdrawal of the US from the agreement. However, in light of the provocative stance of the current US administration – documented by the insistence on the inclusion of a sentence on the promotion of ‘clean fossil fuels’ – it is a major achievement to preserve the cohesion of a group of countries that include the likes of Russia or Saudi Arabia. Crucially, the world is not waiting for the US on its joint path towards a more climate-friendly global economy."

Susanne Dröge, senior fellow for global issues at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)

“The federal government has put a lot of energy into this G20 summit, to uphold the global climate protection consensus. However, the result shows the current policy preferences. The Climate and Energy Action Plan is a good signal and an important departure point for future ambitions by the G20 states. The personal commitment by each head of state or government will continue to play a big role in implementing the Paris Agreement, also because the G20 are an important forum regarding the integration of climate policy with topics such as trade, finance and economic growth.”

Christoph Schott, Global Campaigner at Avaaz

“Trumps planned climate coup did not divide the G20. He came, he saw, he failed. Trump had to experience that Paris is irreversible and that the other 19 countries – supported by millions of people worldwide – do not succumb to his climate delusions. Planet earth 1 – Trump 0.”

Stormy-Annika Mildner, B20 Sherpa

“We certainly would have preferred an agreement by all 20, but 19 is – I guess – the best possible solution. The US is a huge player, it’s a huge market, and it plays a big role in the world economy. You cannot make any policy around the United States. What we will be looking at very carefully is what is going to happen on the regional, the state and the municipal level in the US. It’s good that there are many initiatives, but it would be a lot more preferable to have a federal approach, because otherwise you create fragmented markets.”

Claudia Kemfert, Energy Economist, German Institute for Economic Research (DIW)

“It’s important for international climate policy that 19 countries have explicitly committed to the Paris Agreement. Also, all 20 countries want to lower emissions. The impact on actual climate protection depend on whether the US support for coal leads to higher emissions. The global energy transition cannot be stopped from an economic point of view because renewable energy sources are getting ever cheaper.

Europe and Germany now have a leadership role to play. Germany has to do more to meet its own targets and remain credible. A coal exit, a sustainable transport transformation and a heating transition are urgently needed.”

Eberhard Brandes, Managing Director WWF Germany

„Even if the US administration does not support the efforts any longer and bets on fossil fuels: the large majority is turning against the dirty energy sources because they are flatout not viable in the future. […] They know: The Paris Agreement is irreversible and for the protection of our planet indispensable.”

Jörn Kalinski, Head of campaigns of Oxfam Germany

“The G20 summit sends the important signal that 19 members are unified in their support of the Paris climate agreement and want to advance the implementation. That means Donald Trump is isolated. The attempt of the United States to give fossil fuels a future under the Paris Agreement will fail. Unfortunately, the summit did not lead to any progress in ending subsidies that are harmful to the climate and did not lead to more precise climate action. The chancellor should have used the summit to flag the exit from climate-harming coal.”

Jennifer Morgan, Greenpeace International Executive Director:

“The G19 held the line today, defending the Paris Agreement against Trump’s backward decision to withdraw, but that is not enough. The G19 should have committed to accelerate the transformation away from coal, oil and gas. If Paris was the starting point, Hamburg must sow the seeds of much greater ambition. Millions of people suffering from the impacts of climate change are demanding urgent action to end the age of coal, oil and gas. To put words into action, the G19 must now accelerate the clean energy transition and set sail from Hamburg with an agenda of change."

Merkel, as G20 host, helped secure a united G19 outcome, but she must now lead the way at home and end Germany’s reliance on coal by committing to a socially just coal phase-out by 2030.”

Christoph Bals, Germanwatch Policy Director

"The G20 has passed the first part of the Trump Test on climate. 19 leaders in Hamburg stood united in their commitment to the Paris Agreement and its swift implementation. President Trump tries to undermine the Paris Agreement, but instead he has further isolated himself. His objective to sell American fossil fuels to the world received a hard reality check at the G20. In the Communiqué, even the United States accepted a commitment to a global transition towards low-greenhouse gas emission energy systems consistent with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This includes  SDG 7 which aims to substantially raise the share of renewables and double the improvement rate for energy efficiency by 2030. The future belongs to energy efficiency and renewable energy. The second part of climate test will come at home. For Germany this means agreeing on a planned phase-out of coal and a transition strategy for the transport sector."

Tom Burke, E3G Chairman

“Trump has lost another collision between fantasy and reality. No other global leader shares his fantasy that climate change is a hoax. Other governments, cities, businesses, entrepreneurs, and communities, including many in his own country, will carry on with the serious business of tackling the greatest strategic threat to our prosperity.”

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