Climate policy in the trump era

Climate policy in the trump era

Fight against global warming © Franziska Kraufmann

Dealing with climate change is on the agenda at the G20 summit. After all, the heads of state and government of the largest greenhouse gas producers are sitting at the table there, including China, the USA, India, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Europe.

Together, the leading industrialized and emerging economies are responsible for 75 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions: "A suitable forum to agree on joint action against climate change," as Oxfam climate expert Jan Kowalzig explains.

Climate protection on the agenda

With this in mind, the German government has put climate protection on the agenda of the Hamburg G-20 summit. The goal: progress in implementing the UN Paris climate agreement, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5 to two degrees. Meanwhile, however, the U.S. under President Donald Trump has pulled out of the pact against global warming. So what to expect from the climate change agenda item at the gathering of the most powerful leaders?

At the G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily, in May, Trump refused to include a joint commitment to the Paris Agreement in the final declaration. No doubt he will not take a different view in Hamburg. It remains to be seen whether the USA will agree, at least in part, to an "Action Plan on Climate and Energy" presented by the German government. "The question is what remains of this German plan in the final declaration," says Kowalzig.

Among other things, the German government's proposal aims to support investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency through economic policy incentives. Among other things, this involves reducing subsidies for fossil fuels – which will not be easy to achieve against Trump, who is a friend of coal.

Preliminary discussion around final paper

Summit drama will largely depend on how the other 19 players position themselves on Trump. At the C20 civil society conference in Hamburg on June 19. June in Hamburg, environmental and development organizations called for isolating the U.S. and clearly naming the Paris Agreement in the final document. Similar to the G7 Taormina Declaration, the Hamburg final paper would then likely state that the U.S. does not share the consensus of the other nations.

However, another scenario is also conceivable. "The fear is that oil countries like Saudi Arabia will side with the U.S.," says Bread for the World climate officer Sabine Minninger. "Russia and Turkey are also wobbling candidates."In this case, the result would probably be a watered-down declaration that ignores the Paris Agreement.

Climate economist Reimund Schwarze takes a different perspective. For him, the commitment to Paris is not the decisive point in Hamburg. "The litmus test for this event is whether it will be possible to get green financial market reform off the ground," says the professor from Leipzig's Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research.

Climate-friendly restructuring of the global economy

Among other things, the aim is to establish investment rules that will promote the climate-friendly restructuring of the global economy. The G20 Stability Council (FSB) has drawn up recommendations for this. " Since Donald Trump has positioned himself against strict regulation of financial markets, it would be logical for him to oppose green financial market reform as well."

Meanwhile, there is likely to be approval for the German government's plan to expand a climate risk insurance initiative launched within the G7 framework. Insurance companies should compensate for damage caused by natural disasters such as hurricanes. The goal is to provide around 400 million people in poor countries with such protection against climate hazards by 2020. In Hamburg, the German government also wants emerging economies such as China to provide venture capital for the initiative.

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