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Macron’s G-20 Climate Threat Melts Away Just Like the Ice Caps

Macron’s G-20 Climate Threat Melts Away Just Like the Ice Caps

Emmanuel Macron in Tokyo on June 27
Emmanuel Macron in Tokyo on June 27 Photographer: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images
Emmanuel Macron in Tokyo on June 27
Photographer: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

Emmanuel Macron arrived in Japan for the G-20 summit threatening to block the final communique if he didn’t get what he wanted on climate.

His hard line stance didn’t last long.

On landing in Tokyo, the French president told expats that he would insist on a reference to the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.

“If we are not able to get around a table and defend the climate, then France won’t go along with it,” he said. “It’s that simple.”

His aides were back-pedaling immediately.

One said it was impossible to discuss hypotheticals when asked if Macron would really pull a Donald Trump-style maneuver and refuse to sign. Another said it wasn’t a threat, just an indication of France’s priorities.

A few hours later, Macron himself was dialing back his position at a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“We’ll have met for nothing” if the G-20 doesn’t take new climate initiatives, Macron said. But there was no threat.

By the time he saw Japanese businessmen Thursday morning, Macron was simply saying that climate would be a major issue at the G-20.

Climate and bio-diversity have always been major issues for Macron -- partly because the landmark 2015 Paris Accord was signed in the French capital -- but they have taken on even greater importance after the French Green Party made major advances in May’s European parliamentary elections. Macron has calculated that voters favoring tougher action on the environment could be an important source of support.