Kristian Rouz – The G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, has produced a joint communique from the leaders of the world’s leading economies, and the document provides further evidence of US opposition to the climate change agenda.
The joint G20 communique, released on Saturday, acknowledged that the Paris climate agreement, adopted in 2015, is ‘irreversible’, and that US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the deal means that the US and rest of the major economies will go their separate ways in regulating their respective industries.
Trump and many of his fellow GOP members have repeatedly lambasted climate change as a ‘hoax’ that was concocted to prompt the over-regulation of manufacturing in the US. This, in turn, has made US industrial production more costly and less competitive, while the accompanying corruption and abuses of authority have hastened the decline of US manufacturing. The White House pulled from the Paris agreements and is on course to revoking most of the offending regulations at home in order to boost domestic output and economic growth.
"In the end, the negotiations on climate reflect dissent – all against the United States of America," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said as the G20 meeting drew to its close. "And the fact that negotiations on trade were extraordinarily difficult is due to specific positions that the United States has taken."
The US stance on other issues, such as international trade and migration, was also marked by a different tone than that of the other 19 countries participating in the meeting. The Trump administration adamantly advocates tackling what Washington deems as unfair trade practices, including currency FX manipulations and non-tariff limitations on imports and exports used by certain nations that formally uphold the free trade idea.
“Many things have happened that have led to trade imbalances,” Trump said, adding that he wants a new international trade framework that would be “equitable” and “reciprocal.”
The climate change rhetoric is, however, particularly relevant as the US intends to increase domestic extraction and the use of fossil fuels, including coal and shale oil. The immediate consequences of such a move to the US energy sector are unclear, because, on the one hand, a greater output might further impair fossil fuel prices. On the other hand, this would provide a major impulse to US energy demand, which, coupled with greater US fossil fuel exports, could place upward pressure on energy prices.
“The United States of America states it will endeavour to work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently,” the G20 communique reads.
Among the US’ prominent trade partners, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia were leaning towards softening the tone of the communique concerning climate change and trade, but ultimately agreed with the final version. Many observers have subsequently noted that the US is now ‘isolated’ in their vision of trade and environment issues, but the White House appears to be adamant pursuing their ‘America First’ policies, almost regardless of possible international spillovers and/or headwinds.