By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –
German Chancellor Angela Merkel ran rings around Trump at the G20 summit in Hamburg, where pictures show Donald sitting alone and being ignored by other heads of state when he bothered to show up (he sent Ivanka to sit in for him at one session). Trump abruptly and mysteriously disappeared toward the end of the summit, not bothering to address it as has been the custom with regard to previous US presidents.
The G20 groups the twenty wealthiest countries in the world, which among them account for 85 percent of global GDP, 75% of world trade, and 66% of the world’s population. Some observers have condemned the body as unfair, since no one elected it and the poorest one third of the world are not represented.
With the US absent from climate discussions because Trump withdrew from the Paris Accords, the remaining 19 members of the G20 were able to craft a much stronger statement on climate change and addressing it than the US would normally allow. US governments are typically deeply beholden to Big Oil, Big Gas and Big Coal.
The danger was that Saudi Arabia in particular might balk, but the kingdom seems to be more afraid of Merkel and her allies than it is of Trump. Besides, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman has already admitted that oil is over with, and he is looking for a soft landing for the Saudi economy by turning oil wealth into investment wealth before the black gold comes to be recognized as worthless (it already is worthless, but most people just don’t realize it yet).
The G20 communique said,
“We recognise the opportunities for innovation, sustainable growth, competitiveness, and job creation of increased investment into sustainable energy sources and clean energy technologies and infrastructure. We remain collectively committed to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions through, among others, increased innovation on sustainable and clean energies and energy efficiency, and work towards low greenhouse-gas emission energy systems. In facilitating well-balanced and economically viable long- term strategies in order to transform and enhance our economies and energy systems consistent with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, G20 members will collaborate closely.
After noting the withdrawal of the US, it added,
“The Leaders of the other G20 members state that the Paris Agreement is irreversible. We reiterate the importance of fulfilling the UNFCCC commitment by developed countries in providing means of implementation including financial resources to assist developing countries with respect to both mitigation and adaptation actions in line with Paris outcomes and note the OECD’s report “Investing in Climate, Investing in Growth”.
Americans who put Trump in the White House sent America’s strategic strength and diplomatic soft power swirling down the toilet.
The renewed Franco-German partnership a the heart of Europe, on the other hand, is now in the cockpit of the world on big issues.