G20 pledge climate action but make few commitments

Monday, November 1st, 2021 00:00 |
France’s President Emmanuel Macron.

The leaders of the world’s richest economies have agreed to pursue efforts to limit global warming with “meaningful and effective actions”.

But exactly how this will be achieved was not revealed in the leaders’ communiqué at the G20 summit in Rome.

Host nation Italy had hoped that firm targets would be set before the COP26 summit in Glasgow, which has now begun.

The G20 group, made up of 19 countries and the European Union, accounts for 80% of the world’s emissions.

The communiqué, or official statement released by the leaders, also makes no reference to achieving net zero by 2050, which many countries have already pledged to do and climate scientists say is critical to avoiding a climate catastrophe.

Net zero means reducing greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible, until a country is absorbing the same amount of emissions from the atmosphere that it is putting out.

The communiqué does pledge, however, to stop financing new, unabated coal plants internationally by the end of this year - a strong message to coal-reliant nations such as China, Russia and India.

But the G20 leaders stopped short of agreeing to end coal power in their own nations.

Activists had expressed their disappointment over the initial drafts of the communiqué, feeling it was not tough enough.

There had been concerns reaching a deal would not be easy, as among the leaders not appearing in person is China’s President Xi Jinping.

China is the world’s biggest polluter - although, per person, its emissions are about half those of the US.

Oscar Soria, of the activist network Avaaz, told the agency there was “little sense of urgency” coming from the group, adding: “There is no more time for vague wish-lists, we need concrete commitments and action.”

However, others have been keen to paint the G20 as a stepping stone to COP26, which will see delegates from nearly 200 countries gather to discuss cutting carbon emissions.

A US official told reporters the G20 was about “helping build momentum” before the leaders headed to Glasgow later on Sunday, while France’s President Emmanuel Macron told newspaper Journal du Dimanche that “nothing is ever written before a COP”.

“Let’s not forget that in Paris, in 2015, nothing was decided in advance,” he told the weekly. - BBC

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