Merkel mustering G20 support on climate ahead of July summit: sources

Image: FILE PHOTO – German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a statement about Trump’s global climate deal announcement at the Chancellory in Berlin, Germany, June 2, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

By Andreas Rinke and Andrea Shalal

MEXICO CITY/BERLIN (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel is seeking to bolster support among G20 members for tackling climate change ahead of a summit in Hamburg next month, while trying to avoid giving the impression she is rallying an anti-U.S. alliance, German government sources say.

Merkel is ready for dissent at the meeting, however, after U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from a global climate change agreement, they said.

Merkel told an audience in Argentina on Friday that as host of the G20, she would have to be up front about differences if all 20 highly industrialized countries failed to see eye to eye on climate and other issues, as the final communique requires unanimous consent.

“There will be issues where not everyone gets what we want,” Merkel said, a clear nod to Trump’s move to pull out of the 2015 Paris accord to combat climate change days after refusing to endorse it at summits in Europe.

At the same time, Merkel, a strong advocate of the Paris accord, must stay true to her views at home, where she is seeking a fourth term in office in September national elections and where Trump remains deeply unpopular.

During visits to Argentina and Mexico, Merkel highlighted her shared views with the leaders of both countries on climate change, trade and other issues.

“Germany is looking for allies on issues that are important to us,” Merkel said after a meeting with Argentine President Mauricio Macri.

German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday that her staff have drawn up a 13-page paper for the July G20 summit that includes specific references to the 2015 Paris agreement – setting up a potential showdown with Trump.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has suggested striking out the references to enable Trump to sign the communique, the magazine reported.

Government sources say Merkel needs Trump’s support to make the G20 summit a success, however, and his willingness to compromise could wane if he perceives her as his enemy.

Indeed, she told students in Buenos Aires that it was vital to maintain dialogue even with those who hold different views.

“Because if I talk with someone, I can no longer simply say he is stupid,” she said.

Complicating the issue further for Merkel, however, her foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel of junior coalition partners the Social Democrats, wants as many G20 countries as possible to underscore their continued support for the Paris deal at the July summit.

“The G20 cannot result in a silent unity against the climate agreement,” he told the magazine.

A recent poll by Infratest dimap showed that only 21 percent of German voters viewed the United States as a reliable partner, a drop of eight percentage points from April that put it on the same level as Russia and far below China on 36 percent.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Copyright 2017 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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