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US isolated on climate at summit of world leaders

  • Published at 06:37 pm July 9th, 2017
US isolated on climate at summit of world leaders

Leaders from the world's leading economies broke with US President Donald Trump on climate policy at a G20 summit on Saturday, in a rare public admission of disagreement and blow to multilateral cooperation.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, keen to show off her skills as a mediator two months before a German election, achieved her primary goal at the meeting in Hamburg, convincing her fellow leaders to support a single communique with pledges on trade, finance, energy and Africa.

But the divide between Trump, elected on a pledge to put "America First", and the 19 other members of the club, including countries as diverse as Japan, Saudi Arabia and Argentina, was stark.

Last month Trump announced he was pulling the United States out of a landmark international climate accord clinched two years ago in Paris.

"In the end, the negotiations on climate reflect dissent – all against the United States of America," Merkel told reporters at the end of the meeting.

"And the fact that negotiations on trade were extraordinarily difficult is due to specific positions that the United States has taken."

The summit, marred by violent protests that left the streets of Hamburg littered with burning cars and broken shop windows, brought together a volatile mix of leaders at a time of major change in the global geo-political landscape.

Trump's shift to a more unilateral, transactional diplomacy has left a void in global leadership, unsettling traditional allies in Europe and opening the door to rising powers like China to assume a bigger role.

Tensions between Washington and Beijing dominated the run-up to the meeting, with the Trump administration ratcheting up pressure on President Xi Jinping to rein in North Korea and threatening punitive trade measures on steel.