Merkel Plans to Challenge Trump on Renewables in G-20 Forum

  • Germany said to focus on profits to be made with wind, solar
  • Strategy seeks to keep U.S. on board on climate change

Trump's Mysterious Feelings on Global Warming

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, fresh from taking over the presidency of the Group of 20 nations, plans to use her leverage to challenge Donald Trump’s skepticism about the value of renewable energy by pointing out where it’s a viable business.

The strategy is aimed at reducing the risk that Trump will upend work by Europe and the rest of the G-20 to rein in greenhouse gases and advance the cause of low-pollution fuels, according to a senior German official.

Instead of gathering G-20 energy ministers and risk disagreements on policy, Germany will seek to keep the political gatherings focused on areas where business is earning returns from wind and solar farms, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t yet public.

Trump in 2012 described climate change as a hoax invented by China and more recently singled out wind farms as a costly energy source that kills too many birds. He has pledged to reduce environmental regulations and encourage the use of coal, the most polluting fossil fuel.

Germany and the European Union have pledged to ratchet up restrictions on greenhouse gases, shifting the continent away from the fuels blamed for damaging the climate. Europe wants to protect the Paris Agreement on climate change signed a year ago and ratified in November, setting reductions on emissions in more than 190 countries. Trump pledged during the U.S. election campaign to “cancel” the pact, though he said he’d “keep an open mind” about it after winning the presidency in November.

Germany and the U.S. compete as global champions in exporting environmental technology. That market will “at least” double by 2025 from the 2.5 trillion euros ($2.66 trillion) it’s valued at now, according to the German government.

Human Causes

Merkel, a former German environment minister who championed the Paris agreement, signaled she’ll challenge Trump’s statements on global warming. As part of the G-20 presidency that Germany took over on Thursday, Merkel will host leaders of member nations, including the U.S., in Hamburg in July.

“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,” Merkel said at a party meeting in Muenster, Germany, late Wednesday.

Europe’s biggest economy will create about 430,000 new jobs by 2020 as the nation’s transition to renewable energy gains economic traction, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP said in a report this month.

German executives have said Trump may be swayed by economic arguments in favor of clean power.

“We’re seeing that renewable power is becoming competitive in the U.S., and money talks there,” Innogy SE Chief Executive Officer Peter Terium told reporters in Frankfurt on Wednesday. “It’s a competitive technology whether Trump likes it or not.”

Energy Shift

Speaking in Berlin on the same day, the International Energy Agency’s Executive Director Fatih Birol said Germany’s assumption of the G-20’s reins occurs at a “critical and historical” moment in the global energy shift. Two-thirds of global carbon dioxide emissions still come from energy.

Germany is taking over the G-20 from China, the world’s biggest greenhouse-gas polluter. Germany’s tenure will omit special meetings of energy and climate ministers as well as of trade ministers, said the German aide.

Merkel wants G-20 leaders to agree on “suitable political framework conditions, financial instruments and economic incentives for investment in climate-resistant infrastructure,” according to an agenda published by the German government.

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