U.S. Reluctantly Agrees to Add Climate Change to G20 Communiqué
Finance ministers from the 20 largest economies agreed to add a scant mention of the climate crisis in its final communiqué in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Sunday, but they stopped short of calling it a major economic risk, as Reuters reported. It was the first time the G20 has mentioned the climate crisis in its final communiqué since Donald Trump became president in 2017.
Finance ministers and central bankers were meeting to discuss global economic challenges over the weekend, focusing on growth, impediments to growth and ways to tax global digital companies.
The U.S. was reluctant to accept language that would pinpoint the climate crisis as an impediment to economic growth.
"Usually China blocks as well, but as they are represented at lower level it's mainly the U.S.," one G20 diplomat said to Reuters.
"Climate is the last sticking point in the communiqué. There is still no agreement," a second source familiar with the negotiations told Reuters.
In the end, the U.S. bowed to pressure from European finance ministers who pressured the U.S. to acknowledge the climate crisis. The New York Times noted that the inclusion of "climate change" on the third page of the document at the bottom of a long list of potential risks was a subtle, but notable acknowledgement by the U.S. that there are risks involved in a changing climate.
The communiqué says that the "financial stability implications of climate change" were being monitored by the G20's Financial Stability Board, according to The New York Times.
The French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire held a long discussion on Saturday night with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin about the language around the climate crisis. While Le Maire had hoped for more extensive language, he acknowledged that simply getting a mention of climate change signaled progress. After all, the Trump administration has not accepted established science that humans are causing a climate crisis, having aggressively rolled back environmental regulations for the past three years to provide a boon to industry, as The New York Times reported.
At last June's G20 summit, Trump dismissed the need to take action against the climate crisis, offering a bizarre rant about how wind power does not work without massive subsidies, and how other countries' investments in clean energy means they are missing out on a lot of power, as The Independent reported.
After the communiqué was finalized, Mnuchin bristled at the idea that he caved to the pressure from his European counterparts. He also trivialized the language, calling it a "purely factual" description of the work done by the Financial Service Board, as Reuters reported.
"I did not bend to pressure from the Europeans," Mnuchin told reporters, as Reuters reported.
The compromised language came after Washington refused to add "macroeconomic risk related to environmental stability" to a list of downside risks to global growth, two G20 diplomatic sources told Reuters.
"I think he clearly understands that even if we do not share the exactly the same assessment on climate change, there is a need to address the issue within the G7 and within the G20," Le Maire said of Mnuchin, as The New York Times reported. "I think that we have a totally different perspective on the risk of climate change — for us, this is clearly one of the major risks. This is a financial risk."
The U.S. Treasury's continued silence on the climate crisis is at odds with the investment community, which is raising the alarm of the climate crisis, and is drawing criticism. Last week, economists at JP Morgan Chase warned that the climate crisis might alter life as we know it.
"Here you are, you're the most important economy in the world still. All of your peers are working together to figure out how to use the instruments of fiscal monetary policy in order to manage a smooth energy transition, and you're not in the room," said Rachel Kyte, the dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a former climate change envoy for the World Bank, as The New York Times reported.
Hundreds of endangered sea turtles were stranded on beaches after suffering "cold stunning" in the waters off Cape Cod, Mass. Local rescuers and wildlife rehabilitators stabilized the turtles at the New England Aquarium (NEAQ) and National Marine Life Center and began treatment. Many of the sea turtles were transported by land or air to partner facilities around the Eastern Seaboard for longer-term care to make room for more incoming, cold-stunned animals.
Rehabilitators at The Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys assess critically endangered, cold-stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtles flown in after rescue in New England. The Turtle Hospital<p>NEAQ and local rescuers begin seeing turtles every fall when water temperatures drop to that 50 degrees F threshold, and typically expect to find them into early January. After that, <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/sea-turtle-cape-cod-weather-2621527394.html" target="_self">temperatures are so cold that any animals found are usually no longer alive</a>.</p><p>Merigo estimated that this year's cold season "looks very busy" and noted that local rescue efforts had already surpassed 400 turtles.</p><p>"It is a lot of animals. They're still coming in," she told EcoWatch as she surveyed 39 rescued turtles that day and 20 the day prior. "So far, this is a huge year."</p><p>At NEAQ, the turtles are gradually warmed up about five to 10 degrees F a day. More aggressive warming can cause serious damage and the turtle might not survive, Merigo said. Emergency treatments also include providing replacement fluids, balancing electrolytes and addressing pneumonia. Assessments take place for other serious problems too, such as shell or limb fractures, frostbite, emaciation and eye damage.<span></span></p><p>As local aquariums don't have the capacity to care for all the injured turtles, a group of private pilots called <a href="https://www.turtlesflytoo.org/" target="_blank">"Turtles Fly Too"</a> donated planes, fuel and time to transport some to various partner facilities around the country. Other turtles were driven to closer care facilities.</p><p>"We have a huge network of really great partners working with us, so if we can spread out the care, we can give better care to all the animals," Merigo said.</p><p>The 40 Kemp's ridley sea turtles recovering in The Turtle Hospital will continue to be treated and rehabilitated anywhere from 30 days to a year, depending on the severity of injuries, Zirkelbach said.</p><p>The turtle expert noted that while she's treated cold-stunned turtles from the north before, the newest arrivals were the most cold-stunned Kemp's ridleys ever received at one time.</p>
After rescue, cold-stunned sea turtles received immediate emergency care and assessments at the New England Aquarium. Caitlin Cunningham / New England Aquarium<p>In the past decade, the Gulf of Maine, which spans from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia, has warmed 99 percent faster than the rest of the ocean, Zirkelbach said. The warm water encourages turtles that migrate north along the Gulf Stream in warmer months to stay in the bay longer.</p><p>"Turtles that fail to migrate south get stuck in the unique horseshoe-shaped topography of the Cape Cod peninsula, and when temperatures drop, the bay becomes a death trap," she added.</p><p>Before ocean temperatures warmed, the waters of Maine were too cold for many of these sea turtles, Merigo echoed. Now, with warming sea surface temperatures, Maine can reach the high 70s to low 80s, which is "perfect turtle temperature," she said. The potential for more turtles getting trapped in the bay and then cold-stunned is nerve-racking for Merigo.</p><p>In addition to shifting habitats as waters warm, warming global temperatures also disrupt natural gender balance in sea turtles, Merigo warned. Gender is determined by the temperature of eggs in nests, and as the planet warms, it will result in all females at some point, she said.</p><p>"The turtles we work with are all endangered and threatened," Merigo said. "For sea turtles in general, the future is a little grim. Climate change is real; it does impact them."</p>
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