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Final G20 Communique Reveals Split Over Climate Policy

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The final G20 communique, released Saturday at the closing of the international summit in Hamburg, highlights a rift between the U.S. and the world’s 19 largest economic powers over climate policy.

Leaders from all 19 countries reaffirmed their support for the Paris climate agreement and explicitly denoted President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the international agreement.

“We take note of the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from the Paris agreement,” the communique reads. “The leaders of the other G20 members state that the Paris agreement is irreversible” and “we reaffirm our strong commitment to the Paris agreement.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel further emphasized Trump’s isolation on climate policy, saying she “deplored” his decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement during a press conference held at the conclusion of the two day summit.

“I think it’s very clear that we could not reach consensus, but the differences were not papered over, they were clearly stated,” Merkel said. “It’s absolutely clear it is not a common position.”

Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris agreement in June, casting it as an effort to disadvantage the U.S. economy through imbalanced energy regulations. Trump, who campaigned on supporting American coal and fossil fuel industries, reportedly negotiated for the inclusion of an explicit reference to fossil fuels in the communique.

The line indicates the U.S. will help the international community “access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently.”

“The inclusion of this paragraph is the trade-off of having a consensual approach,” one EU official told the Wall Street Journal. “Obviously, to have in the text a reference to these kind of energy sources is not something we like.”

The French delegation reportedly made a concerted effort to isolate Trump on climate policy and ensure the rest of the leaders reaffirmed their support for the 2015 agreement.

A lengthy withdrawal period means the U.S. will not officially withdraw until 2020, at which point it will be one of only three countries in the world not signed onto the agreement.

While the U.S. was isolated by Trump’s stance on climate policy, the communique expressed some degree of unity on trade.

The leaders agreed they would “fight protectionism including all unfair trade practices and recognize the role of legitimate trade defense instruments in this regard.”

Trump’s protectionist rhetoric made trade a potential sticking point, but it appears the group was more accommodating on that issue.

In response to Trump’s concerns regarding the over production of cheap steel in countries like China, which he argues is ravaging the U.S. steel industry, leaders agreed to release information on steel production by August. They further agreed to issue a more formal report including recommendations by November.

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