G20 Meeting Recap (by V. Nader)

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McKenna’s tweet demonstrates the G20 countries’ near unanimous agreement to commit to climate change action.

My assumption last week that Canada is a role model for other countries to emulate has been proven as TRUE! A recent survey conducted by Ipsos MORI, a global market research and consulting firm, has revealed that Canada is seen as having the most positive influence on world affairs today. The poll asked citizens of 25 countries the following question in 2016: “Thinking about the next decade, would you say the following countries or organizations will have an overall positive or a negative influence on world affairs?” The results can be seen in the chart below.

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Charted by Statista

According to a Forbes article, “the U.S. image dropped 24 percentage points since last year’s ranking due to much of the world losing confidence in President Trump’s leadership as well as rising international skepticism about his “America First” policies.”

Interestingly enough, this change is reflected in a sentiment shared by former Canadian diplomat, Tom Bernes, after the G20 summit – which took place between July 08 – July 09, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany – when he said the G20 “is left trying to find the leadership that in the past the United States has provided as an anchor to the system.” It appears that the world is losing confidence in the U.S.’ ability to act as a global leader and, perhaps, Canada will take on the role in the next decade.

Similar to the G7 meeting, 19 out of 20 countries, the outlier being the U.S., reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Accord at the G20 summit. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna, along with leaders of the other countries present at the summit, were displeased with President Trump’s decision. All 20 countries were able to agree on all points in the communiqué except for the energy and climate change section. The leaders of the G20 countries, less the U.S., state that the “Paris Agreement is irreversible.” However, while the U.S. believes otherwise due to Trump’s desire to utilize cheap energy sources, they, according to the communiqué, “will endeavour 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, given the importance of energy access and security in their nationally- determined contributions.”

I believe this statement has no merit whatsoever, it is simply issued to appease the other countries. Trump considers the Paris Agreement as just another bad deal that the U.S. got itself in and, as we can observe by now, he is committed to renegotiating all bad deals. This can be seen below in his tweet about the G20 meeting.

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Despite Canada’s and the U.S.’ disagreement on climate change, amongst other issues, McKenna’s tweet reassures all that the Canada-U.S. relationship is not impacted.

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A method Trudeau is employing to promote climate change action in the U.S. is by meeting with and mobilizing individual states. For example, Trudeau’s Prime Minister website reveals that he will be visiting Rhode Island on July 14th to “deliver the keynote address at the 2017 Summer Meeting of the National Governors Association.” Numerous U.S. governors will be present at the meeting to discuss issues of common concern, one of them being “common solutions on climate change.” Since Trump is adamant about disregarding climate change on a federal level, Trudeau will work with the U.S. on a state level.

I think it will be arduous to mobilize individual states, but it will definitely be worthwhile. It has been effective in the past with California and Canada, specifically Quebec and, recently, Ontario, participating in a cap-and-trade system which was implemented in 2014 to reach the goal of reducing GHG emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. If Trudeau can encourage more states to participate in similar initiatives, then climate change action in the U.S. will become a reality despite a Trump presidency.

As time passes, it is becoming more evident that Canada is the new global leader. I do not think it would be a stretch to say that it could replace the U.S. in the next few years in terms of its power. Former U.S. presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, tweeted a while ago that the U.S.’ affirmation of the Paris Accord is more than climate change, it is about reasserting their status as a global super power. The tweet can be seen below.

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Canada is surpassing the U.S. in terms of taking initiative on various causes and the G20 summit has only affirmed that Canada is filling the void created by Trump.

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