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Paris climate deal is 'irreversible'

By Fu Jing in Hamburg, Germany | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-10 07:12
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The leaders of G20 members, except US President Donald Trump, said on Saturday that the Paris Climate Change Agreement is "irreversible" in the communique released at the close of two-day summit in the German port city.

While President Xi Jinping repeatedly expressed China's commitment on global climate cooperation and sustainable development during his trip to Germany from July 4-8, the United States was cited in the G20 final document as saying that it will "immediately cease the implementation" of its current greenhouse gas reduction contribution.

"The leaders of other G20 members state that the Paris Agreement is irreversible," the communique said. "We reaffirm our strong commitment to the Paris Agreement, moving swiftly towards its full implementation in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibility."

The leaders have also urged developed countries to fulfil their commitment to offer financial resources to assist developing countries in coping with climate disasters.

Based on the divided stances between the other G20 members and the US, the leaders have agreed on the G20 Hamburg Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a news conference on Saturday that "the talks were tough" while insiders said G20 officials sought but failed to gain last-minute compromises from the US.

Trump had last month announced the decision to withdraw from the hard-won Paris Agreement, which more than 140 countries have already ratified.

Apart from the Paris Agreement, the leaders also achieved a wide consensus on energy cooperation, energy security and sustainable development.

"Take it or leave it, and no more bargaining. That is the Hamburg G20 answer to Donald Trump's US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement," said Qi Ye, director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy of Tsinghua University.

Qi said that all but one of the major economies chose to fulfill their pledges on the historic climate agreement and China, the new leader of global climate governance, has made it clear that it will deliver 100 percent of its commitment to the Paris Agreement.

"And China will help other developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change through South-South Cooperation by making the largest financial contribution ever to the international efforts," said Qi.

By giving up the opportunity to rejoin the international community on climate change, Qi said President Trump has effectively isolated the US from the global community, and marginalized the country in the climate governance. "Now that the decisions are made, disappointed leaders and citizens would no long look up the United States for climate leadership," said Qi.

Zhang Jianyu, China representative of the New York-based Environment Defense organization, said China has injected "huge confidence" in the international community by strongly committing to the Paris Agreement despite the US decision to cease contributing to global greenhouse reduction.

"What's more, China's determination to set up a national carbon market by 2018 will not only help China realize its climate goals, but also raises hopes in the rest of the world on establishing a global carbon market," said Zhang.

Dennis Pamlin, founder of the Sweden-based consultancy 21st Century Frontiers, said that the G20 found it difficult to achieve consensus on climate change due to the US factor, which is very troubling.

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(China Daily 07/10/2017 page11)

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