A few days before the G20 summit in Hamburg, top climate experts published a letter in the magazine Nature. They expected their stern language about the importance of their concerns to influence world leaders, especially US President Donald Trump. Their urgent message is that time is running out. In order to increase the chances of their message being fully understood, some used more dramatic language. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, for example wrote: “The maths are brutally clear: while the world can’t be healed within the next few years, it may be fatally wounded by negligence before 2020.”
The scientists’ appeal was heard about as much as the Pope’s when he spoke of the “tragedy in South Sudan, in the Lake Chad basin, in Somalia and in Yemen, where a total of 30 million people don’t have adequate food and clean water in order to survive.”
Of course, the world’s 20 biggest economies don’t owe their prosperity to their respect for environmental responsibilities. Their not very comforting joint communique said: “The committment of all G20 members, without the US, is that the Paris Climate Agreement is irreversible and that members, without the US, agree it must be implemented quickly.”
Without the US means without one of the biggest producers of greenhouse gases. The pact may end up without Turkey as well. Although President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signed the agreement, at the end of the summit he stated his intention to reassess this signature by weighing it against his (read: personal) nation’s interests.
As far as the US is concerned, Washington’s pledge to “help other countries reduce their burning of fossil fuels,” cleared the hurdle allegedly put in front of it by the others. Nothing makes this clearer than the decision by the imperial snob Trump to send his daughter in his place on the second day. And nothing was more confusing than the “Ode to joy” heard at the end of the meeting. Is such sarcasm really possible?