Germany makes climate change G20 priority

Agenda for Hamburg summit submitted by chancellor Angela Merkel to cabinet calls for global push on climate and development goals

Angela Merkel (Pic: European People's Party/Flickr)


Securing the world against the challenges posed by climate change will be one of the central pillars of its G20 presidency, the German government has said.

On Wednesday it released its first policy guide to the Hamburg summit, which is scheduled for July 2017. That statement listed global warming among only a few headline issues it wants discussed.

“One main concern is to make progress on realising the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change,” reads a line in the G20 agenda, which chancellor Angela Merkel presented to her cabinet.

The G20 will be one of the first gatherings for incoming US president Donald Trump to engage with fellow world leaders and gain a sense of the level of global commitment on climate.

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Climate change has dominated the gathering of the world’s top economies in recent years. In 2016 the US and China used it to announce they had ratified the Paris climate deal.

In 2015 G20 countries mandated the Financial Stability Board to develop new guidelines for boosting green finance flows, which are due to be published in early 2017.

The German announcement said the G20 meeting would also challenge members to “accept responsibility” in the face of mass migration and refugee movements.

Brigitte Knopf, an official with inside knowledge of G20 planning, said Wednesday’s announcement by the German presidency was being viewed in the country as “an anti-Trump agenda”.

Knopf is head of the Berlin-based Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), which is tasked with shaping policy for the climate aspect of the talks.

She said the MCC would be recommending a strong focus on carbon pricing at the talks and that initial discussions with the government and industry bodies had been encouraging.

“Already for half a year now we have been having a very good dialogue with the ministries and they are very much interested in the topic,” she said.

“We really see a chance that carbon pricing can become a topic within the G20. At least in the times before Trump. Now everything is a bit more difficult of course.”

Addressing Trump’s apparent scepticism on the causes of climate change, Merkel said this week she would challenge the billionaire on his beliefs when they meet.

“Of course I’ll say that I believe that climate change is certainly caused by humans – and we’ll want to see if the position there develops,” she said in a speech to party members in the city of Muenster.

“One always has to try to find compromise through mutual respect and a clear position. That’s politics – always to find compromise.”

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