News & Politics

G20 Leaders Scold Trump on Climate: Consider Paris Agreement 'Irreversible'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Donald Trump pose for a family photo with G7 leaders at the Ancient Greek Theater of Taormina, Friday, May 26, 2017, in Taormina, Italy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

In a parting shot, German Chancellor Angela Merkel rebuked President Donald Trump for announcing his intention to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. She joined the leaders of 18 other countries to attack him as the G-20 summit concluded Saturday.

“Unfortunately — and I deplore this — the United States of America left the climate agreement, or rather announced their intention of doing this,” Merkel said as she closed the summit and presented the G20 declaration document. That document acknowledged Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement, but argued that withdrawal is impossible.

“We take note of the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from the Paris Agreement,” the leaders wrote. “The United States of America announced it will immediately cease the implementation of its current nationally-determined contribution and affirms its strong commitment to an approach that lowers emissions while supporting economic growth and improving energy security needs.”

Despite Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement, he promised to help countries in other ways. “The United States of America states it will endeavor to work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently and help deploy renewable and other clean energy sources,” the document noted.

While the leaders acknowledged Trump’s intent to remove America from the Paris accord, they added a passive-aggressive note: “The Leaders of the other G20 members state that the Paris Agreement is irreversible.” But as the Paris accord had no enforcement mechanism, opponents have long derided it as toothless, and this rebuke seems to confirm that there will be no real consequences for Trump’s decision.

Despite her attack on Trump’s climate position, Merkel did seem to make concessions to the American president’s trade policies. “This is all about fighting protectionism and also unfair trade practices,” she said. The declaration noted “the role of legitimate trade defense” in combatting “unfair trade practices,” echoing Trump’s criticism of international trade agreements during the 2016 campaign.

During that campaign, Trump won on an “America First” platform, vowing to pull the country out of several multilateral trade deals. Since his inauguration, he has stepped back some of the isolationist rhetoric, but he has threatened to impose new tariffs on steel imports, which prompted European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to threaten retaliation.

Many liberals overreacted to Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris accord. Left-wing bundler Tom Steyer said doing so would be a “traitorous act of war” against the American people.

But the science is very far from “settled” on climate change. Climate models fail over and over again. Senate Democrats launched an inquisition last year aimed at silencing free inquiry and speech about this issue. Activists like Bill Nye give very unscientific answers when pressed on the issue, and a Georgia Tech climatologist resigned rather than give up her scientific integrity by toeing the party line.

Watch Merkel’s press conference after the G20 below: