Finance officials from the world’s 20 biggest economies (G20) on Sunday referenced climate change in their final communique for the first time in U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, but stopped short of calling it a major risk to the economy.
The United States blocked including climate change on a list of downside risks to global growth that had won agreement by nearly all other G20 delegates, but ultimately agreed to permit a reference to the Financial Stability Board’s work examining the implications of climate change for financial stability.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin played down the importance of the language included, calling it a “purely factual” reference to work being done by the FSB. But several G20 sources said it marked progress toward greater recognition of the economic risks posed by climate change.
“I did not bend to pressure from the Europeans,” Mnuchin told reporters after the release of the communique, bristling at the characterization of one reporter.
Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan, hosting the meeting in Riyadh, told reporters that climate change remained a very important issue on the Saudi G20 presidency agenda and that there had been discussions related to “financial risks at large” linked to the issue.
Discussions related to “climate change and environmental protection” would continue at ministerial meetings and in technical groups throughout the year, he said.
One G20 source said it was the first time a reference to climate change had been included in a G20 finance communique during Trump’s presidency, even though it was removed from the top of the joint statement.