UN chief calls climate change ‘the defining issue of our time’ and appeals for urgent action from world leaders.
Leaders from the Group of 20 nations (G20) will meet in Osaka starting on Friday and wrangling is expected over the wording of a summit communique on combatting climate change.
The United States – led by climate sceptic President Donald Trump – is pushing to downgrade the language against European opposition, according to sources and drafts of the text.
The arguments are a reprise of tussles over global warming that have stymied talks in multilateral forums since Trump pulled the US out of the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement to limit the effects of climate change.
The latest draft, seen by Reuters news agency, includes language supporting the implementation of the Paris Agreement, and called the accord signed by 200 nations “irreversible”.
An earlier draft didn’t include such language at the insistence of the United States, two sources familiar with the discussions over the communique said.
Further changes are likely before the final adoption of the text on Saturday by G20 leaders.
French President Emmanuel Macron said France will not accept text that does not mention the historic Paris accord.
“If we don’t talk about the Paris agreement and if we don’t get an agreement on it among the 20 members in the room, we are no longer capable of defending our climate change goals and France will not be part of this,” he said on Wednesday.
France was one of the main drivers behind the Paris accord and the French parliament is now debating an energy bill that targets net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
“Negotiations on the topic of climate will be especially difficult this time,” a German government official said.
Nations in Paris agreed to limit the global average rise from pre-industrial temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius. Current policies put the world on track for at least a 3C rise by the end of the century, according to a United Nations report in 2016.
Investors managing more than $34 trillion in assets – nearly half the world’s invested capital – piled pressure on G20 leaders, demanding urgent action from governments on climate change.
On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged G20 countries to back more ambitious climate goals.
Summit host Japan has been criticised for backing the continued use of coal for power generation, one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.
“Japan is proceeding with the coal-fired power plant at home and other countries as well, so we want Prime Minister Abe to end funding coal at home and overseas,” said Hanna Song from the Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society.
Japan ramped up the use of coal-fired generators inside the country after most nuclear power plants were shut down after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima.
The G20 leaders meet on Friday and Saturday.