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World

World Leaders Reaffirm Commitment to Fighting Climate Change

Some European leaders issued explicit appeals to the U.S

From left, Britain's PM Theresa May, President of the EU Council Donald Tusk, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian PM Paolo Gentiloni, France President Emmanuel Macron, and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau walk to their first meeting after the welcome ceremony of the leaders of the G7 countries summit in the Sicilian citadel of Taormina, Italy, Friday, May 26, 2017, photo: AP/Salvatore Cavalli
4 weeks ago

BERLIN – World leaders pledged Thursday to keep up the fight against global warming and urged Donald Trump to be part of that effort, hours before the U.S. president was due to announce whether he would pull out of the Paris climate accord.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, speaking to reporters during a visit to Berlin, said fighting global warming was a “global consensus” and an “international responsibility.” Without mentioning the U.S. specifically, Li said that “China in recent years has stayed true to its commitment” and pointed out that his was one of the first countries to ratify the 2015 Paris Agreement.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who in the past has been dubbed the “climate chancellor” for her efforts to fight global warming, said her country would “continue to fulfil our obligations under the Paris climate agreement as part of the European framework.”

Other European leaders issued more explicit appeals to the U.S. government not to abandon international measures against climate change.

Trump has said he will announce his decision on Thursday afternoon U.S. time at 2 p.m. (GMT-5).

The European Union and China — two of the world’s major polluters — were set to issue a joint statement Friday reaffirming their stance on global warming.

According to a draft of the statement, seen by a news agency, Brussels and Beijing will say they “are determined to forge ahead with further policies and measures for effective implementation of their respective nationally determined contributions” to fighting climate change.

The EU and China will also “call on all parties to uphold the Paris agreement” and “to strengthen efforts over time, in accordance with the purpose and provisions of the agreement.”

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Britain would continue to press the U.S. to reduce dangerous emissions even if Trump pulls out.

Johnson told Sky News that Britain still wants the U.S. to take the lead in fighting climate change and called on individual U.S. states to keep making progress on that front.

“We will continue to lobby the Americans and the White House to show the leadership they have shown in the past on reducing CO2,” he said.

Abandoning the pact would isolate the U.S. from a raft of international allies who spent years negotiating the 2015 agreement to fight global warming and pollution by reducing carbon emissions.

While traveling abroad last week, Trump was repeatedly pressed to stay in the deal by European leaders and Pope Francis. Withdrawing would leave the United States as one of just three countries outside the agreement. The other two are Syria and Nicaragua.

Russia joined the chorus speaking out in favor of the climate accord. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin said Russia “thinks highly” of the accords and sees no alternative to it. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov added that its implementation will not be as effective “without the key signatories.”

During a trip to Europe this week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed India’s commitment to fighting climate change and said it would be a “crime” to spoil the environment for future generations.

Martin Schulz, a former European Parliament president who is hoping to unseat Merkel in Germany’s upcoming general election, said he hoped Trump would think better of withdrawing from the accord. If the U.S. does leave, he said, the Europe Union should seek ways to balance out the economic advantage that U.S. companies might have from the absence of climate regulations.

“Those who want to export their goods and services to our market also have to accept our standards,” he said.

Scientists say Earth is likely to reach more dangerous levels of warming sooner if the U.S. retreats from its pledge because the U.S. contributes so much to rising temperatures. Calculations suggest withdrawal could release up to 3 billion additional tons of carbon dioxide a year — enough to melt ice sheets faster, raise seas higher and trigger more extreme weather.

KIRSTEN GRIESHABER
FRANK JORDANS

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