U.S. joins ‘constructive’ G-20 climate meeting, Germany says

Officials representing the world’s largest economies, including the U.S., put global climate talks back on track in Berlin Friday, after failing last week to agree on language supporting the Paris accord, the German government said.

G-20 climate and energy ministers held a “constructive” meeting over a plan to address global warming, setting the stage for further negotiations leading up to the July summit in Hamburg where U.S. President Donald Trump, China’s President Xi Jinping and other leaders will gather, the German Environment Ministry said in a statement to Bloomberg.

The climate meeting comes a week after the U.S., China, India and Saudi Arabia successfully pushed to have a reference to global warming dropped from a statement issued by G-20 finance ministers and central bankers. German officials were frustrated by the move and said they would continue using their role as host of this year’s G-20 meetings to support efforts to fight global warming.

“It’s an important concern to push implementation of the Paris accord,” the German Environment Ministry said in its statement. The climate treaty offers “manifold chances to modernize economies, boost competitiveness and create jobs and growth.”

Economic Push

The climate plan presented by Germany emphasizes economic growth opportunities from clean energy, underscoring Chancellor Angela Merkel’s strategy to sell the idea to Trump and preserve the global effort to rein in greenhouse gases.

There’s scant evidence the strategy will pay off. Trump has derided climate change as a hoax and during his campaign threatened to pull the U.S. out of the Paris accord. Since taking office, he’s called for relaxing fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks and proposed sweeping cuts to climate change research.

The moves have sparked concern among environmentalists around the globe. On Thursday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres acknowledged countries may be retreating on climate change efforts, but didn’t single out the U.S.

The U.S. was represented in talks Friday by State Department official Griffin Thompson. A State Department spokesman declined to comment on the meeting. Germany was represented by Economy and Energy Ministry division head Thorsten Herdan.

Germany will try to rally support for its climate plan during three meetings in May, with the aim of gaining enough backing to be adopted by G-20 leaders including Trump at the Hamburg summit on July 7 and July 8.

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