G20 ends without time-bound promise on climate change

G20 ends without time-bound promise on climate change

Final text only commits to ‘net zero’ emissions by or around mid-century.

India pushed for “safeguarding the interests of the developing world” as Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the G20 summit at sessions on climate change and sustainable development on Sunday, said G20 Sherpa and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal.

No time-bound agreements were reached as leaders of the world’s top economies ended the summit in Rome, recommitting to providing $100 billion a year to counter climate change, and pushing for greater vaccine equality to fight the COVID pandemic. G20 countries also committed to ending international financing for all new coal plants by the end of 2021, but made no mention of domestic commitments on ending coal power generation.

The final communique, which was agreed after negotiations overnight spoke only of the “key relevance of achieving global net zero” on carbon emissions “by or around mid-century”.

Amongst the other highlights of the Rome Leaders statement was a decision to pursue the recognition of more vaccines by the World Health Organization under a “One Health approach” for the world, and providing finances and technology for vaccine production at “mRNA Hubs” in South Africa, Brazil and Argentina, and to mobilise more international public private financing for “green” or environmental projects.

Addressing the media, G20 Sherpa and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal hailed the communique for acknowledging India’s concerns on climate justice, and for getting developed nations agreed to providing finance and providing technologies to help less developed nations.

“We have also been able to push the commitment of the developed world to provide $100 billion every year through from now until 2025. And the commitment of all the countries to mobilize greater levels of capital for the less developed countries and the emerging economies,” he said, referring to the previous commitments made at the Paris agreement, which have not yet been fulfilled.

Climate negotiators from the U.S., EU and UK had made a number of visits to Delhi over the past few months, pressing for India to update its commitments (NDCs) to include its target of 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030, and to set a date for ending the use of coal in power plants.

However, Mr. Goyal said it would be necessary for developed countries to achieve much quicker emission cuts so that there is more “carbon space for the developing countries to pursue their development agenda”.

“There are no adequate technologies to be able to absorb large amounts of clean energy into the grids and to maintain grid stability. And therefore, we will have to look at more technology and innovation playing an important role before we can identify a year for Net Zero,” Mr. Goyal said.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the failure of the G20 summit to set a specific date for countries to achieve “Net Zero” carbon emissions, and on reducing global warming, had left his hopes “unfulfilled” but “not buried”, as the joint communique set the stage for tough negotiations at the COP26 Climate Change summit in Glasgow that begins on Monday.

Mr. Modi will attend the opening ceremony of the 15-day event in the UK, where more negotiations, especially on global commitments to keep temperature increases at 1.5 degrees Celsius will take centrestage.

Speaking at the session on Climate Change and Environment earlier, the host, Prime Minister Draghi had made an appeal for higher targets to be adopted by the 20 countries, that account for nearly 80% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“The decisions we make today will have a direct impact on the success of the Glasgow Summit and, ultimately, on our ability to tackle the climate crisis,” Mr. Draghi said on Sunday, at the summit that was marked by the absence of five key G20 leaders, from China, Russia, Japan, South Africa and Mexico, who addressed the conference virtually, and sent Ministers in their place. Indonesia will host the next G20 in 2022, and India will be its host in 2023.

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