China, EU and Canada Form Climate Pact as Trump Stands Alone

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  • U.S. to make decision on how to approach Paris Agreement
  • Environment on the agenda at the G-7 summit in Sicily

The Coming Storm of Climate Change

China, Canada and the European Union are joining forces to advance the Paris Agreement while President Donald Trump is still deciding whether the U.S. should stick with the landmark deal on climate change.

Canada’s environment minister Catherine McKenna, EU Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete and China’s special envoy for climate change Xie Zhenhua are meeting Tuesday in Berlin to discuss climate leadership and how to maintain momentum if the U.S. pulls out of the Paris Agreement. In September, the three will convene a ministerial-level meeting in support of the Paris accord, Canete said in an email.

The collaboration between the three countries is another sign that Trump, and the U.S., will become isolated from the rest of the world. Almost 200 nations pledged to fight climate change when the Paris deal was signed in 2015 and since then only the U.S. has indicated it may step off that path.

“It’s very important that we continue the shared programs on climate change," McKenna said in an interview at the Petersberg Climate Dialog hosted by Chancellor Angela Merkel. “There is a need to bring together key players. We think that China, Canada and the EU are in a good position to bring together other countries at the ministerial level to have high-level discussions about how we’re going to move forward on the Paris Agreement."

Trump has given mixed signals about the fate of the Paris deal under his administration. He’s called climate change a hoax and said during his campaign last year he would scrap the deal if elected. Since then, he’s said he would keep an open mind but has prioritized stimulating fossil fuels and especially coal, which conflicts with U.S. promises under the deal. Trump’s advisers are divided on the issue.

Germany is assuming Trump will indicate the position the U.S. will take regarding the Paris accord at a Group of Seven summit in Sicily on May 26 and May 27, Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said at a climate conference in Berlin on Monday. Signatory states of the Paris accord won’t let their agenda be derailed whatever the outcome of Trump’s decision and subsequent policy, Merkel indicated Tuesday.

“We are often asked about our position when looking at the U.S. uncertainty,” said Chinese envoy Xie. “The Paris Agreement is a hard-won achievement, and all signatories should stick to it instead of walking away. China will stick to its word.”

The United Nations climate conference, which Germany is hosting this year in Bonn, is pressing ahead with its agenda, Merkel said Tuesday. Global warming is “something that concerns us all,” she told delegates. We must “uphold the spirit of Paris."

Concerns were also raised by a number of global corporate and political leaders, including the OECD which said that bringing growth and climate-change agendas together could lift 2050 economic output by as much as 2.8 percent, a report released Tuesday said. Taking into account the economic benefits of avoiding climate change impacts such as flooding, that number goes up to almost 5 percent.

“This trio is emblematic of the kind of distributed leadership we’re seeing, with a diversity of countries putting their shoulders to the wheel on climate,” said David Waskow, International Climate Director at the World Resources Institute. “It ranges from major emitters to many of the most vulnerable, and many in between.”

The agreement is broader than any previous climate accord. It calls for reducing pollution in hopes of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above temperatures at the outset of the industrial revolution.

“The Paris Agreement was a signal to the market and now it’s about how to take advantage of this opportunity and how do we make sure that every country is part of it," McKenna said. “There’s a huge opportunity and now it’s bigger than just one country."

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