Germany avoids climate change clash with Trump

Smoke from a coal-fuelled power station in China. Germany, in taking a cautious path in promoting its climate change and energy agenda, has not scheduled formal meetings for environment ministers even as it is expected to submit a plan to G-20 nation
Smoke from a coal-fuelled power station in China. Germany, in taking a cautious path in promoting its climate change and energy agenda, has not scheduled formal meetings for environment ministers even as it is expected to submit a plan to G-20 nations to tackle climate change.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • The German government will release this week a plan for the Group of 20 economies to address climate change, taking a cautious step towards confronting US President Donald Trump on an issue that puts him at odds with most world leaders.

The 23-page draft outlines how the most prosperous nations can lead by example, cutting their own greenhouse-gas emissions, financing efforts to curb pollution in poorer countries and taking other steps to support the Paris climate accord.

The plan appears to tread carefully. It makes no mention of cutting coal production, which Mr Trump has vowed to increase, nor does it address automotive fuel standards, which he plans to review.

And while the plan is expected to be distributed to all G-20 nations, Germany has not scheduled formal meetings for environment ministers, avoiding the risk of a clash over global warming.

"The Germans are trying to find a way to move their climate change and energy agenda and, at the same time, not raise red flags for President Trump," Dr John Kirton, co-director of the University of Toronto's G-20 Research Group, said in an interview.

Germany will present the climate plan this week as energy and environment officials gather in Berlin for the G-20 Sustainability Working Group meeting, laying the groundwork for Mr Trump and other heads of state when they gather in July for the summit.

The plan calls for transitioning to low-emission energy systems by mid-century. It acknowledges that the 2015 Paris Agreement is unlikely to succeed in limiting global warming to 2 deg C above temperatures at the outset of the industrial revolution - even if every nation meets emissions targets.

And it endorses a push for public companies to disclose climate-related risks to shareholders.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 19, 2017, with the headline 'Germany avoids climate change clash with Trump'. Print Edition | Subscribe