The climate crisis underlines the need for effective global economic leadership. The US president makes this harder, but so do China and several others
Ever since the G20 of leading global economies was founded, its summits have mostly been convergent occasions, marked by attempts to find common ground and remembered for nothing more unseemly than a bit of jostling among the heads of government to be on the front row of the group photograph. Japan’s prime minister Shinzō Abe clearly takes this traditional view about the G20 summit which he will host in Osaka on Friday and Saturday. “We want to make it a meeting that focuses on where we can agree and cooperate rather than highlighting differences,” he said recently.
But there is a balloon-puncturing problem with Mr Abe’s approach, and it answers to the name of Donald Trump. If there is one issue on which this year’s summit clearly ought to be showing global leadership, it is the climate crisis. The subject is indeed on the Osaka agenda but, in spite of efforts by countries including France, there is no prospect of serious or effective action. That is no surprise from a group of nations which almost tripled the subsidies they gave to coal-fired power plants between 2013 and 2017, with China, India and Japan itself leading the way. But it is Mr Trump’s decision to walk away from climate accords and to back fossil fuels that creates the wider permission for these other terrible derelictions.