Japan has bowed to US pressure by watering down commitments to tackling climate change in its draft G20 communiqué, a sign of how Tokyo is seeking to curry favour with Washington amid tense trade talks and concerns over North Korea.
The draft document omits the phrases “global warming” and “decarbonisation” and downplays the Paris climate accord compared with previous communiqués. Analysts say it is an effort to placate the position of the US, which has made clear its intention to withdraw from the 2015 climate pact.
The US and Japan are locked in difficult negotiations over a potential trade deal, in which agriculture and car parts have been sticking points. Tokyo also wants Washington to raise the economic pressure on North Korea and force Pyongyang to give up its nuclear ambitions.
“This really demonstrates the irrelevance of the G20 in addressing the world’s largest crisis at this point in time,” said Jennifer Morgan, head of Greenpeace International. “It is a complete lack of political leadership.”
The G20 summit in Osaka, which starts on Friday, comes after global emissions hit a record high and as demonstrators are planning protests over Japans’ pro-coal policies. Activists are preparing to inflate a blimp with a likeness of Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, standing in a bucket of coal, as they urge the country to stop building new coal-fired power plants.
For the past two years, the climate portion of the G20 communiqué has included a “G19 + 1” statement on climate change, with the US making its own climate statement from the rest of the bloc.
This year, the current draft by Japan caters to the US position and avoids calling for reducing emissions or “decarbonisation”.