Germany and California Bolster Climate Cooperation as US Backs Off G7 Statement

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Germany and California have agreed to bolster their cooperation on tackling climate change, as international criticism continues to mount over the US government’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement.

Just days after agreeing a climate cooperation pact with China, California Governor Jerry Brown met with Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks over the weekend in San Francisco.

In a further sign of defiance against President Trump’s decision to back away from global climate action, Brown and Hendricks issued a joint statement underscoring the importance of the two economic powerhouses working together with other global governments and regions to provide leadership on international climate action.

The statement emphasised that tackling climate change “is not only a necessity but also an opportunity for growth”.

In addition it publicly backed the work of the Under 2 Coalition of 175 global cities and regions, which is working to keep worldwide average temperature increases below 2C.

“China and Germany – two of the most powerful countries in the world – are working with California and with other states to deal with climate change,” said Governor Brown in the statement. “The current withdrawal from the Paris Accord by the Washington administration is being overcome and countermanded by people throughout the whole world.”

The move is part of a raft of efforts from regional and national governments – as well as businesses – to solidify international support for the Paris Agreement and decarbonising the global economy in the wake of President Trump’s decision on quit the pact.

“The United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement underscores the significance of subnational actors in particular in our joint efforts to achieve the overall objective and goals,” Germany’s environment minister Hendricks added in the statement. “Together with California, Germany will provide strong leadership for the Under2 Coalition in the COP23 in Bonn this November.”

The bilateral agreement comes as the US administration refused to add its name alongside other countries to a G7 communique on climate change issued yesterday following a two-day meeting of environment ministers in Italy.

The summit was attended by US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt, but he is said to have left the meeting early to return to the US.

The 15-page communique issued at the close of the summit includes a section on climate change, in which the environment ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the EU Commission reaffirmed their “strong commitment to the swift and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement, which remains the global instrument for effectively and urgently tackling climate change and adapting to its efforts”.

However, having announced its intention to pull out of the Paris accord earlier this month, the US refused to join its fellow G7 members in backing sections of the communique covering climate change and Multilateral Development Banks.

In a footnote to the communique, the US government emphasises that it continues “to demonstrate through action, having reduced out CO2 footprint as demonstrated by achieving pre-1994 CO2 levels domestically”.

“The United States will continue to engage with key international partners in a manner that is consistent with our domestic priorities, preserving both a strong economy and a healthy environment,” the footnote states. “Accordingly, we the United States do not join those sections of the communiqué on climate and MDBs, reflecting our recent announcement to withdraw and immediately cease implementation of the Paris Agreement and associated financial commitments.”

Elsewhere, the US did endorse sections of the communique covering the UN Sustainable Development Goals and tackling marine litter, among other issues.