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US still outsider at G20 over fighting climate change

After copious disputes, the Group of 20 major economies Saturday agreed to disagree on climate change, with the USA dissenting from a commitment to carry out the 2015 Paris climate change agreement.

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In a communique at the end of a two-day summit in Japan's western city of Osaka, the grouping said "signatories to the Paris Agreement" reaffirmed their commitment to its full implementation in fighting climate change, referring to the 19 members except the US.

The division reflects clashes over an agreement to combat global warming since President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the landmark accord signed by 200 nations to limit the effects of climate change.

French ‘red line’ on climate change

Even before the summit started, the differences over the critical issue became apparent when President Emmanuel Macron said France would not accept a final text that omitted the Paris pact agreement.

Macron underscored before the meeting in Japan that strong climate change language would be a "red line" for Paris.

"We avoided going backwards... but we must go much further," Macron said in Japan after 19 of the group's members signed a statement endorsing the Paris climate change deal, without the USA.

A French source said Washington was trying to persuade some countries to reject the Paris deal and there are concerns that it now appears less isolated than before on environmental issues.

The 2015 Paris accord agreed to limit the global rise in temperatures to below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F). However, current policies put the world on track for a rise of at least 3 degrees C by the end of the century the United Nations said in a 2016 report.

G20 officials said the negotiations to secure acceptable language had been highly contentious. After much squabbling, the nations agreed on "common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities" in implementing the pact.

Washington says accord hurts US workers

The United States withdrew from the Paris pact because it "disadvantages American workers and taxpayers," the accord added in a subsequent section, adopting a two-part approach used at last year's summit in Buenos Aires.

The section on the American stance said the United States employed a "balanced approach to energy and environment" to deliver "affordable, reliable, and secure energy to all its citizens".

The US approach uses "all energy sources and technologies, including clean and advanced fossil fuels and technologies, renewables, and civil nuclear power, while also reducing emissions and promoting economic growth," it added.

Progress on plastic in ocean

The G20 did manage to agree on tackling plastic trash in the ocean. In the statement the grouping said it adopted an "Osaka Blue Ocean Vision" that aims to stamp out additional pollution by marine plastic litter by 2050.

There were no details of how the goal would be met, except that members would adopt "a comprehensive life-cycle approach" by improving waste management and finding innovative solutions while recognising the importance of plastics for society.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

 

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