German chancellor says Trump administration’s decision to quit Paris climate agreement means EU must show leadership on issue
June 29, 2017 — Tackling climate change will be one of the central tasks of the upcoming Hamburg G20 summit of the world’s largest economies, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said on Thursday, following the US withdrawal from the Paris climate pact.
Merkel, who will host the gathering of global leaders in the northern port city, said the climate change scepticism of the Trump administration made it all the more important for the European Union to show leadership.
“Since the decision of the US to quit the Paris climate agreement, we are more determined than ever to make it successful,” she said. “We must tackle this existential challenge, and we cannot wait until every last person on earth has been convinced of the scientific proof.”
When chairing the summit, Merkel said she would seek to guide talks such that they furthered the goals of the Paris deal, but she conceded that differences with the US meant discussions would not be easy.
“The differences are obvious and it would be dishonest to try to cover that up. That I won’t do,” she said, adding that the forum, which meets on 7 and 8 July, would also discuss common approaches to trade, another area in which the Trump administration’s protectionist instincts are at odds with the European Union’s.
“Anybody who believes the problems of the world can be solved with isolationism and protectionism is labouring under a huge error,” Merkel said.
Germany on Thursday rejected a request by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to address ethnic Turks in Germany on the sidelines of the summit.
Berlin-Ankara relations have badly deteriorated amid disputes over Turkey’s mass arrests of alleged state enemies since a failed coup last year and a host of other rights issues.
“I explained weeks ago to my Turkish colleagues that we don’t think that would be a good idea,” the Germany foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said.
Merkel promised a renewed drive with France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, to deepen cooperation within the bloc and the eurozone. She said that far from being weakened by Britain’s vote to quit the EU, the bloc would remain united.
With the fault lines multiplying, Merkel’s western European allies arrived in Berlin on Thursday to draw up a common battle strategy.
“Merkel has called a summit between Europeans because there is a problem with the relationship with Trump,” said a diplomatic source, speaking on condition of anonymity. It’s necessary to ensure European cohesion because within the G20, it’s complicated.”
Besides the transatlantic differences, there was also a new European division growing between east and west particularly on the issue of refugees, said Jean-Dominique Giuliani, the president of the Robert Schuman Foundation, a Paris-based thinktank.
Trump’s anti-immigration stance has emboldened many of the EU’s ex-communist members in the east, which have staunchly opposed Merkel’s pleas to accept larger shares of the refugees who have flocked to Europe.
Trump will head to Warsaw for a summit of central and eastern European leaders likely to include Hungary’s hardline prime minister, Viktor Orbán, a day before the G20, which threatens to deepen divisions.
The German foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said it was important for Europe to face up to the US confidently. “We do not want to forcefully separate the US from Europe. But what we don’t want either is to appear like an appendage of US policies,” he said.