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Donald Trump Isolated on Climate Change

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It was unfortunate that German Chancellor Angela Merkel chose to emphasise the isolation of US President Donald Trump over climate change rather than supporting him in the attempt to force North Korea to stop its nuclear weapons programme.

Making North Korea a second order issue significantly increased the risk that President Kim Jong-Un would continue his campaign of brinkmanship.

Donald Trump refused to endorse the commitments in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change saying he governed for Pittsburgh not Paris.

The Europeans forged a link with the Chinese President Xi Jinping who was only too ready to fill the climate leadership void even though China intends to increase its emissions for at least the next 13 years.

The US President refused to endorse the G20 call to resist protectionism although the wording in the communique was anodyne enough to achieve a consensus.

The US made it clear that it would apply anti-dumping measures to steel imports and might even rely on national security exemption to trade rules to impose quotas on steel imports.

In another attack on Mr Trump, Chancellor Merkel claimed that Europe believed in free trade and open markets.

Since Germany has pursued a policy of accumulating surpluses at the expense of trading partners since the global financial crisis by exploiting an undervalued Euro, this was a bit rich.

“Our world has never been so divided,” French President Emmanuel Macron said as the talks broke up.

“Centrifugal forces have never been so powerful.

Our common goods have never been so threatened.”

This reflects the view of a leader who is too young to have absorbed the history of the first, second and cold wars.

The idea that a refusal to accept a consensus on climate change represents the most radical global divide ever, belies his claims to a superior intellect.

President Macron now intends to have another Paris climate change conference this year with a view to emphasising the American exclusion.

This is redolent of the Kevin Rudd approach to global warming issues where he tried to make it a basis to strut the world stage.

It will achieve very little but could put more pressure on Malcolm Turnbull as he tries to develop a policy to deal with the domestic energy crisis.

In the meantime the Korean crisis continues to escalate while Europe sits on the fence.

John McDonnell

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