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Trump Isolates U.S. on Climate, Ocean Plastics and Trade Following Contentious G7 Summit
After declining to attend the Group of Seven (G7) meeting on climate change, clean energy and oceans Saturday, President Donald Trump pulled out of the summit's official communique, which saw the other countries renew their commitments to the Paris agreement, Inside Climate News reported Sunday.
The communique, which summarized the meeting of major world democracies in Charlevoix, Quebec June 8 and 9, had already included separate statements from the U.S. and the rest of the participants. Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom and the European Union all recommitted to the Paris agreement. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the EU all also endorsed the G7 Ocean Plastics Charter, which sets goals towards reducing the use of unnecessary plastics and improving recycling. The U.S., meanwhile, wrote a statement focusing on the importance of "affordable and reliable energy resources."
But despite already diverging from the rest of the group on environmental issues, Trump announced via Tweet on Saturday that he had instructed U.S. representatives not to endorse the communique at all after he was angered by remarks made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a press conference.
Trump's most vocal disagreement with Trudeau and other world leaders focused on trade, not climate. The week before the summit, Trump had placed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, the EU and Mexico and at the summit said he would end trade with countries whose policies with the U.S. he deemed unfair, The Guardian reported.
In the press conference that prompted Trump's tweet, Trudeau had said he would not approve a change to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) sought by Trump that would allow a member country to leave the agreement after five years, according to The Guardian.
The other G7 nations stood by the communique.
"Let's be serious and worthy of our people," the French presidency said in a statement quoted by AFP. and reported by Inside Climate News. "International co-operation cannot be dictated by fits of anger and throwaway remarks."
"President Trump's wrecking ball approach to international diplomacy left him utterly isolated at the G7 summit. Leaders from the other six countries didn't even try to paper over their strong disagreements with Trump on trade, climate change and other important issues. On climate change, they made clear their determination to meet their national commitments under the Paris Agreement, and to continue efforts to decarbonize the global economy," Union of Concerned Scientists director of strategy and policy Alden Meyer said in a statement about the summit reported by Inside Climate News.
"As communities across the U.S. confront the costly and harmful impacts of climate change, it's these leaders—not President Trump—who are acting in the true economic, environmental and national security interests of the American people," Meyer concluded.
These other leaders promised, in a more comprehensive climate statement than 2017's, to reduce water pollution, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions to achieve a carbon-neutral economy in the second half of the 21st century. They also pledged to work with local governments, indigenous communities, impacted coastal or island nations and the private sector to meet their climate goals.
The summit coincided with World Oceans Day and Saturday's March for the Ocean, so it was fitting that G7 leaders also endorsed the Charlevoix Blueprint for Healthy Oceans, Seas and Resilient Coastal Communities, which calls for promoting oceans research, improving the sustainability of fisheries, helping coastal communities be resilient to climate change and reducing marine litter.
Every G7 nation besides the U.S. and Japan endorsed the G7 Ocean Plastics Charter, which sets specific goals of working with industry towards 100 percent reusable or recoverable plastics by 2030 and recycling 55 percent of plastic packaging by 2030 and 100 percent by 2040, among others.
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By Will Sarni
It is far too easy to view scarcity and poor quality of water as issues solely affecting emerging economies. While the images of women and children fetching water in Africa and a lack of access to water in India are deeply disturbing, this is not the complete picture.
The Past is No Longer a Guide to the Future
We get ever closer to "day zeros" — the point at when municipal water supplies are switched off — and tragedies such as Flint. These are not isolated stories. Instead they are becoming routine, and the public sector and civil society are scrambling to address them. We are seeing "day zeros" in South Africa, India, Australia and elsewhere, and we are now detecting lead contamination in drinking water in cities across the U.S.
"Day zero" is the result of water planning by looking in the rear-view mirror. The past is no longer a guide to the future; water demand has outstripped supplies because we are tied to business-as-usual planning practices and water prices, and this goes hand-in-hand with the inability of the public sector to factor the impacts of climate change into long-term water planning. Lead in drinking water is the result of lead pipe service lines that have not been replaced and in many cases only recently identified by utilities, governments and customers. An estimated 22 million people in the US are potentially using lead water service lines. This aging infrastructure won't repair or replace itself.
One of the most troubling aspects of the global water crisis is that those least able to afford access to water are also the ones who pay a disproportionately high percentage of their income for it. A report by WaterAid revealed that a standard water bill in developed countries is as little as 0.1 percent of the income of someone earning the minimum wage, while in a country like Madagascar a person reliant on a tanker truck for their water supply would spend as much as 45 percent of their daily income on water to get just the recommended daily minimum supply. In Mozambique, families relying on black-market vendors will spend up to 100 times as much on water as those reached by government-subsidized water supplies.
Finally, we need to understand that the discussion of a projected gap between supply and demand is misleading. There is no gap, only poor choices around allocation. The wealthy will have access to water, and the poor will pay more for water of questionable quality. From Flint residents using bottled water and paying high water utility rates, to the poor in South Africa waiting in line for their allocation of water — inequity is everywhere.
Water Inequity Requires Global Action — Now.
These troubling scenarios beg the obvious question: What to do? We do know that ongoing reports on the 'water crisis' are not going to catalyze action to address water scarcity, poor quality, access and affordability. Ensuring the human right to water feels distant at times.
We need to mobilize an ecosystem of stakeholders to be fully engaged in developing and scaling solutions. The public sector, private sector, NGOs, entrepreneurs, investors, academics and civil society must all be engaged in solving water scarcity and quality problems. Each stakeholder brings unique skills, scale and speed of impact (for example, entrepreneurs are fast but lack scale, while conversely the public sector is slow but has scale).
We also urgently need to change how we talk about water. We consistently talk about droughts happening across the globe — but what we are really dealing with is an overallocation of water due to business-as-usual practices and the impacts of climate change.
We need to democratize access to water data and actionable information. Imagine providing anyone with a smartphone the ability to know, on a real-time basis, the quality of their drinking water and actions to secure safe water. Putting this information in the hands of civil society instead or solely relying on centralized regulatory agencies and utilities will change public policies.
Will Sarni is the founder and CEO of Water Foundry.
Note: This post also appears on the World Economic Forum.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Circle of Blue.
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