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.
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Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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