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The US got its own section in the G20 statement on climate change

It reiterates Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement.

US President Donald Trump walks away from Argentine President Mauricio Macri at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires in November 2018.
US President Donald Trump walks away from Argentine President Mauricio Macri at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires in November 2018.
Daniel Jayo/Getty Images
Emily Stewart covers business and economics for Vox and writes the newsletter The Big Squeeze, examining the ways ordinary people are being squeezed under capitalism. Before joining Vox, she worked for TheStreet.

President Donald Trump is on his own island with respect to the rest of the world on the matter of global warming, with the United States being the only country to refuse to sign on to a joint statement on climate change at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In a nonbinding communiqué released at the end of the summit, the signatories of the Paris climate agreement reaffirmed that the international accord “is irreversible” and that they are committed to its “full implementation,” promising to “continue to tackle climate change, while promoting sustainable development and economic growth.”

Except for the US, which got its own clause restating President Trump’s decision over the summer to remove the US from the agreement.

“The United States reiterates its decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, and affirms its strong commitment to economic growth and energy access and security, utilizing all energy sources and technologies, while protecting the environment,” the communiqué reads.

CNN reports that the separate language on the Paris agreement was required for Trump to sign off on the statement. The communiqué also called for reforms to the World Trade Organization but left out mention of fighting “protectionism,” according to NBC News, in order to appease the US. One European official told the outlet that during the long hours of negotiations, “there were moments when we thought all was lost,” and various countries objected to multiple issues and certain language.

Trump specifically has also shown in the past that he’s fine with not playing nice with his international counterparts: He refused to sign a joint G7 statement over the summer and instead struck out at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over trade.

Trump insists on being an outlier on climate

Despite mounds of scientific evidence that climate change is happening, and that it is man-made, President Trump has consistently rejected taking action on the matter and has instead done the opposite. He continues to publicly doubt that human activity is contributing to global warming and unravel any measures taken to combat it.

In an interview with CBS’s Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes in October, he acknowledged “something’s happening” with the climate but that what’s changed will “change back again.”

“I don’t think it’s a hoax, I think there’s probably a difference, but I don’t think it’s man-made,” he said, adding that climate scientists have a “very big political agenda.”

The White House has largely brushed aside the United Nations’ warning in October that we may have as little as 12 years to act on climate change. As Vox’s Umair Irfan put it, “the report makes brutally clear that warming will make the world worse for us in the form of famine, disease, economic tolls, and refugee crises.”

The US government in November released the National Climate Assessment, a climate report required by law, which contained warnings about the potential destruction climate change will cause. It also highlighted the cost of doing nothing about it, undermining Trump’s argument that combating climate change is too expensive.

As to that report, Trump says he just doesn’t think its findings are true. “I don’t believe it,” he told reporters after it came out, saying he’d read “some” of it.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, the president pointed out that many parts of the US were experiencing extra-cold weather, implying that means global warming isn’t happening. It’s a tactic he employs often: saying because the weather is sometimes cold, climate change is not happening.

Trump’s insistence on denying climate change is persistent on the national and international stage, and the damage it could do may be irreversible.