US President Donald Trump, ahead of a tariffs showdown with China, upended another international forum on Saturday by snubbing G20 action to manage trade disputes or the planetary menace of climate change.
After all-night haggling at the summit in Argentina, G20 leaders signed off on a communique whose mere appearance was progress from recent G7 and Asia-Pacific summits, where Trump’s objections caused unprecedented breakdowns.
The communique said all other G20 members agreed to implement the “irreversible” Paris Agreement on climate change.
But it also stressed the need to respect different paces of economic development, as developing economies balk at going further on their Paris pledges.
“What you’re starting to see is you’re seeing a little bit of the coalition fraying,” a senior White House official said after the summit, while denouncing the “job-killing” Paris pact.
Trump’s opposition defies the international scientific consensus building up to a UN climate summit next week in Poland, and of his own government which issued a report last week warning of an enormous hit to the US economy unless action is taken now.
Nevertheless, the G20 statement said the “United States reiterates its decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement,” mirroring the divergence seen last year when Trump shocked the global community by bucking the consensus at his first G20.
The statement also omitted pledges by the G20 to fight protectionism and uphold multilateral trading rules, which used to be a mainstay of the world’s leading economies pre-Trump.
Instead, it merely recognised the “contribution” of the “multilateral trading system,” and added that it was “falling short” in goals of growth and job creation.
“The United States, which is the most open economy in the world, does not accept being shackled,” the summit’s host, Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, told a news conference.