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G20 doesn't speak in 'one voice' over climate change; Modi meets a slew of leaders

Catch Team | Updated on: 9 July 2017, 2:37 IST
(John Macdougall/AFP)

World leaders meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, agreed to every aspect of a joint statement apart from the section on climate change. After hours of negotiating the exact wording of the important reference to climate change, the G20 leaders agreed to disagree.

As of now, the US stands isolated as all other 19 member countries, including India, continue to maintain how the Paris Agreement is irreversible. German Chancellor Angela Merkel even called called US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Deal "deplorable".

Merkel's wrath

“We amended the declaration and it says very clearly what the United States of America wants and underneath what the other countries want,” Merkel said.

“It’s absolutely clear it is not a common position. We worked on this until noon today,” she reportedly said, responding to a question on the deal.

“We can't wait for the last man on Earth to be convinced by the scientific evidence for climate change,” Merkel had said last week. “

The final statement

The final statement now recognises both the positions even as it recognised the US pulling out of the important climate deal.

“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 and help deploy renewable and other clean energy sources, given the importance of energy access and security in their nationally determined contributions,” the reference to the US position says.

This paragraph is immediately followed by the position of the rest of the 19 member countries.

“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,” it says.

India at the table

Trump had earlier accused India of cornering funds worth “billions and billions of dollars” something which was not taken kindly by the Indian government.

On 7 July, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while speaking as the lead speaker during the session on sustainable development, climate and energy, stressed on need to be forthcoming on climate change action and that developing countries must've enough room to grow, according to the MEA official spokesperson.

Meanwhile, Merkel, in her interaction with the media, also spoke about how not just climate change, it was difficult talking trade with the Americans. Although, the final statement maintains the G20’s position against protectionism significant in light of Trump’s stress on ‘America First’, which has caused immense concern to other countries including India. Although the statement expectedly talks about trade defences.

“The rise in protectionism threatens gains from globalisation. G20 must speak in one voice to and sustain a regime of openness,” PM Modi had told the G20 leaders on Friday.

In another significant development on the sidelines of the important summit in Hamburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump agreed to a ceasefire in Southern Syria. The deal also involves Jordan and would come into effect starting Sunday.

India's show of hands

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi met UK Prime Minister Theresa May and asked for support in bringing back economic offenders who have taken refuge in the UK. The list of such offenders include the 'King of Good Times' Vijay Mallya, arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari, and IPL czar Lalit Modi, among others. This was the first meeting between the two leaders after the recent elections in the UK which saw May’s party take a beating.

Earlier, in the day, Modi met South Korean President Moon Jae-in and discussed ways to take the special strategic partnership forward and develop it through participation in Indian flagship programmes like Make in India, Digital India and Startup India.

On 7 July, PM Modi had also met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The two leaders "briefly reviewed progress in bilateral relations, including in important projects, since their last meeting in Japan during Prime Minister's visit in November 2016, "a statement said. The meeting comes days before the important Malabar Exercise, involving the US, the Japanese and Indian Navy, kicks off in the Bay of Bengal.

As the Summit came to a close, PM Modi discussed ways to promote trade and investment with the Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentolini even as he invited Italy to participate in World Food India in November. India’s relations with Italy have improved over the last year after the two Italian marines facing murder charges were allowed to go home.

Putting a leash on terror

Besides the bilateral meeting, the mandarins at South Block are also happy with how the G20 came out with a strong statement on terrorism.

PM Modi had termed terrorism as the biggest challenge during his address at the leadership retreat on Friday even as he mentioned the use of terrorists by countries for political purposes, a reference to Pakistan.

PM Modi had put forward an eleven point action agenda including deterrent action against countries supporting terror and exchange of national list of terrorists between member countries.

First published: 9 July 2017, 2:37 IST