G20 agrees on key climate goals around global warming and coal-financing limits, but lacks firm commitments

But the final communiqué lacked firm promises and could not put an end date on the actual use of coal. It made no commitment to improve issues such as climate finance, paving the way for difficult negotiations at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, which starts in earnest on Monday.

In the final statement, the 20 largest world economies said they “would accelerate our actions” to achieve net-zero emissions by or around the middle of the century. Leaders officially recognized for the first time that its members’ plans for emission reductions, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), needed to be strengthened during this decade to bring them on track to net zero by 2050.

They said they recognized that “G20 members can make a significant contribution to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions” and pledged to “take further steps in this decade” to improve “where necessary” their promises of emission reductions for year 2030.

Some countries’ current contributions do not put them on track to reach their net-zero target by the middle of the century, several analyzes have shown. Scientists say the world must halve emissions during this decade to have any chance of reaching net zero by 2050 and limiting global warming to around 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“We recognize that the effects of climate change at 1.5 ° C are much lower than at 2 ° C,” the statement said. “Keeping 1.5 ° C within reach will require meaningful and effective action and commitment from all countries, taking into account different approaches, through the development of clear national paths that align long-term ambitions with short- and medium-term goals and with international cooperation and support, including financing and technology, sustainable and responsible consumption and production as critical enables in the context of sustainable development.

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The G20 agreement reaffirmed the commitment of wealthy nations to transfer $ 100 billion a year in climate finance to the global south, an existing agreement that has not been fulfilled. A recent report by the COP26 presidency showed that the world would not achieve this goal until 2023. It will also support the mobilization of money from financial institutions, especially development banks, to fill the gap and fund a global green recovery.

Mohamed Adow, director of the climate energy think tank Power Shift Africa, said the G20 message was “weak”.

“This weak statement from the G20 is what happens when developing countries that bear the full force of the climate crisis are shut out of space. The world’s largest economies have largely failed to put climate change at the top of the agenda ahead of COP26 in Glasgow.” said Adow.

China, Russia and Australia among opponents of coal phasing out

It also included an initial recognition of the “significant contribution” of methane emissions to climate change and the need to reduce them. The United States and the European Union are leading the Global Methane Pledge, signed by more than 60 countries, and agree to reduce methane emissions by 30% during this decade.

“We recognize that methane emissions represent a significant contribution to climate change and recognize, under national conditions, that reducing them can be one of the fastest, most feasible and most cost-effective ways to limit climate change and its effects,” communiqué Read.

Methane emissions come mainly from leaky fossil fuel infrastructure as well as livestock. Australia has said it will not sign the pledge. Other major methane emitters, including Indonesia, have signed on.

Several major producers or consumers of coal showed opposition to climate language in the G20 draft communiqué on decarbonisation, particularly on the use of coal, Bas Eickhout, a close MEP, told CNN.

Japan led a group of countries at the G-7 summit in June to soften the language of decarbonisation of power systems, and the country – along with China, India, Australia and Russia – wants to ensure that the language of the current G20 communiqué does not include fixed commitments, said Eickhout, a member of the European Parliament delegation at the forthcoming COP26 negotiations.

Eickhout said Japan insisted the communiqué says energy systems should be “overwhelmingly” decarbonized by the 2030s, rather than making it a clear commitment. It has the backing of China and India, the world’s largest coal consumers; Australia, the world’s largest coal exporter measured in value; as well as Russia, another major exporter and consumer.

Russia opposed setting an end date to funding coal projects abroad, a commitment made by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the UN General Assembly in September, Eickhout said, adding that Russia showed little room for compromise. The G20 in Rome said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there was “a fairly large group of nations with similar concerns about this” when asked about a specific language related to coal.

“Well, those cases have been worked through, through the Sherpas and through the communiqué,” he said.

“So we’ll see what it lands in the next day or so.”

That opposition from Australia was particularly noted by Jennifer Morgan, CEO of Greenpeace International.

“If the G20 was a dress rehearsal for COP26, then world leaders would have their lines fluffed,” Morgan said in a statement. “Their communication was weak, lacking both ambition and vision and simply failed to meet the moment. Now they are moving to Glasgow, where there is still a chance to seize a historic opportunity, but people like Australia and Saudi Arabia need to be marginalized while rich countries must finally understand that the key to unlocking COP26 is trust. “

CNN has contacted officials in China, Japan, Australia and Russia for comment.


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