G-20 finance chiefs said to drop climate reference in document

Finance ministers from the world’s biggest economies dropped a reference to climate change in a draft of their statement at a Group of 20 meeting, frustrating plans by Germany to devote a section to the topic, according to people familiar with the talks.

Deputies concluded crafting the communique on Thursday evening, and ministers and central-bank governors will debate the document in the German town of Baden-Baden on Friday. The language may still change before the final version is released the next day.

Germany is using its year as G-20 president to push for the group to support climate protection. That effort has run into resistance from countries including the U.S., China, India and Saudi Arabia, one G-20 official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks were private.

“There can be a way to overcome disagreements today — that is, not writing about it in the communique,” French Finance Minister Michel Sapin told reporters in the southwestern German spa town on Friday. “But not writing about it doesn’t mean not talking about it. Not writing about it means that there are difficulties, that there is a disagreement and that we we must work on them in the coming months.”

At their last meeting in Chengdu, China, G-20 finance chiefs urged governments to “help bring the Paris Agreement on Climate Change into force as soon as possible” and called for “timely implementation” of the agreement. The document also made a reference to climate finance and reaffirmed a commitment to phase out fuel subsidies.

Changing Paths

The government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who’s scheduled to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington on Friday, may take a different route in its push for climate protection. It’s set to present a plan next week as energy and environment officials gather in Berlin for a meeting of the G-20 Sustainability Working Group.

The 23-page draft, obtained by Bloomberg News, 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 take other steps to support the landmark Paris climate accord.

“The link between global warming and the organization of financial markets and even the organization of the global economy” is particularly important for France, Sapin said in Baden-Baden. “We’ll see whether there’ll be agreement with the U.S. administration, but there can be no going back on this for the G-20.”

Germany remains committed to using the G-20 leaders’ meeting in Hamburg in July to promote efforts to combat global warming, Nina Wettern, a spokeswoman for the German Environment Ministry, said by email. “Climate protection is a core issue of Germany’s G-20 presidency,” she said.

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