Paris Agreement ‘G6’ formed as Trump skips climate meetings

As the G7 summit in Canada came to a close, leaders of the so-called "G6" nations reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement, while President Trump asserted that the US would instead prioritise energy security and economic growth over carbon reductions.

Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the EU agreed new language on the importance of carbon pricing and a “just transition” to clean energy by signing the summit communique – but the US asserted its position in a separate paragraph, saying it will use “all available energy sources”, including the “more clean and efficient” use of fossil fuels.

Trump, who once dismissed global warming as a “hoax”, left the summit before a scheduled discussion on how G7 economies would fund measures to keep the global temperature increase below 2C, leading to the remaining G6 to reaffirm commitments to reaching a “carbon-neutral economy”.

“We reaffirm the commitment that we have made to our citizens to reduce air and water pollution and our greenhouse gas emissions to reach a global carbon-neutral economy over the course of the second half of the century,” states the declaration from the G6 nations.

In contrast, the US statement says that the nation “commits to ongoing action to strengthen the world’s collective energy security, including through policies that facilitates open, diverse, transparent, liquid and secure global markets for all energy sources”.  

Another key differentiator in stances was collaboration; while the G6 nations pledged to “fight against climate change through collaborative partnerships and work with all relevant partners” including the private sector, local authorities and international organisations, the US stood alone in pledging to fund fossil fuel projects in other nations.

Ocean plastics

However, all seven nations did agree on a commitment to address ocean plastic waste and marine litter, stating that they recognise “that healthy oceans and seas directly support the livelihoods, food security and economic prosperity of billions of people”.

Turning to funding, the new agreement does promise new investment in climate action but stops short of major new financial commitments. Last month, a network of some of the least developed countries in the world called on developed economies to turn “concepts into action” by accelerating the implementation of a ‘rule book’ for the Paris Agreement through increased climate finance.

“On the climate, we have an ambitious position at 6, without the US. This is not new,” French president Emmanuel Macron tweeted following the signing of the communique, alluding to last year’s summit, when the publication of the climate change deal was delayed while Trump decided to pull out of the Paris Agreement.

“The joint commitment to climate action forged in Paris remains at the top of the geopolitical agenda despite the US administration’s repeated attempts to demolish it,” Greenpeace executive director Jennifer Morgan said.

“The ambition and resolve shown today by some leaders must now result in real, committed action to address the shared climate threat. There are no second chances. The Trump Administration put the health of the planet at risk and is betting against markets, investors and the action of millions of American sub-national and non-state actors.”

Turning to business

While much reaction to the communique has focused on the US’s failure to commit to a shared climate agreement, Unilever chief executive Paul Polman emphasised that most leading governments and corporates stood against Trump’s climate stance.

“The majority of the world is forging ahead to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, and this leadership is not only coming from governments,” Polman said.

“Companies around the world – including those in the US – are rapidly aligning their business strategies with Paris Agreement to build a just transition to net-zero emissions by 2050 that protects people, reduces risk and drives economic growth.”

Indeed, since Trump decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, more than 900 companies, including Nike, Tesla, Google and Microsoft, have vowed to achieve and exceed the original commitment.

The business response to Trump’s decision has seen corporates including Adidas, eBay, Mars, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Ikea, and Twitter set more ambitious climate targets than those outlined by the US government.

Sarah George

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie