Independent Media Group Foreign Editor Shannon Ebrahim chats to politics head Sifiso Mahlangu in the studio. Picture: Fahim Kota/Studio Independent
Contrary to what many people might believe, decisions taken at the G20 ARE often implemented by the leaders of the world's most significant economies. It is at the G20 that leaders determine to more closely align their economic policies, take steps to ensure greater economic stability, and reaffirm commitments to reduce rising global temperatures, amongst many other critical issues of our times. This makes the two day meeting seem worth it.

At this year's G20 many global powers reiterated the need to do away with protectionist measures. Open markets and fair trade deals were hailed as the only path to peace and prosperity. While Trump might focus on his 'America First agenda,' most of the rest of the club is talking global integration. 

At this year’s G20 Summit in Osaka, Trump was really showed up to be the black sheep of the international community. One by one world leaders stood up and criticised the protectionist measures (of the US). President Xi Jinping was the most robust in his remarks saying that protectionism is destroying the global trade order, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea echoed those sentiments and called for a return to free trade. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that free and open economies are the foundation for peace and prosperity, and Russian President Vladimir Putin argued that increasing protectionism is the result of politically motivated restrictions. Even Trump’s ally Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned of the dangers of one-sided decisions. 

The pressure exerted on Trump by Putin, Modi and EU President Jean-Claude Juncker to settle trade differences with China was so strong that Trump had little choice but to back down on his threat to impose additional tariffs on another US$300 billion worth of Chinese goods. Such a move would have resulted in serious counter-measures, potentially driving the world economy into a recession, and curbing the path to prosperity.

Independent Media Group Foreign Editor Shannon Ebrahim chats to politics head Sifiso Mahlangu about the G20 Summit and Donald Trump's protectionism. Audio: Studio Independent

Trump once again refused to affirm the Paris Climate Change Agreement, which was reaffirmed by all the world leaders at the G20, as it was last year in Buenos Aires. The US is the second biggest polluter of greenhouse gas emissions, which will ultimately destroy the planet as we know it. World leaders accept the scientific evidence that devastating hurricanes and heatwaves are all being caused by the rise in global temperatures, and have committed their countries to limit the rise in global temperature to under 1.5 degrees celsius. 

But Trump is playing to his base claiming that cutting emissions would cost American jobs. His own ignorance also plays a part as he claims climate change is not man-made, citing that there are parts of the US that are extra cold, which leads him to conclude that climate change is not happening. 

The world will move on without Trump, as evidenced by the trilateral meeting on climate change at the G20 between the UN, China and France. But Trump’s obstinance will continue to plunge his country and the world into greater levels of suffering by virtue of his country’s burgeoning pollution and ability to cause economic pain.