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09 Jul 2017

Paris Agreement: 19 countries reiterate commitment after US' withdrawal

Paris Agreement to move ahead despite US withdrawal

Just over a month after the US pulled out of the landmark Paris Agreement, leaders of 19 nations at the Hamburg G20 summit have vowed to take it forward with or without America.

This came after violent protests in the city against US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, climate change and global wealth gap.

A consensus was reached despite a deadlock earlier.

In context

Paris Agreement to move ahead despite US withdrawal

Statement acknowledges US pulling out, but emphasizes commitment to cause

Recognizing the US had withdrawn from the Paris Agreement, world leaders reiterated the accord was "irreversible". A statement said US would "endeavour to work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently".


Why had US left in the first place?

On June 2, Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate change agreement.

Trump said the act disadvantaged American workers, and that he would negotiate a new "fair" deal that would benefit US businesses and workers.

Trump didn't provide a timeline for the withdrawal but White House officials earlier said it could take four years.

It was met with global condemnation.

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Can it ever return into the Agreement?

Most leaders expressed hope the US would return to the Agreement, including UK PM Theresa May.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he would "never despair of convincing (Trump) because I think it's my duty".

However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel remained skeptical. "I think it's very clear that we could not reach consensus," she told reporters.

What else happened at the summit?

It was Trump and Putin's first meeting on the sidelines of the summit. They discussed allegations of Russian hacking during the 2016 elections, but Trump accepted Moscow's assurance it never intervened. Trump also talked to Chinese President Xi jinping: they discussed North Korea's nuclear plans.


Signs of a move away from the current G20 approach

The G20 summit this time was more like G19+1, with Trump's active "America first" policy visible in all sectors. Trump also cancelled his own press conference on July 8, making the division starker.

Another point was trade. With a little nudge from Trump, a communiqué against protectionism being renewed, for the first time, focused on countries' right to protect their markets.

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