G20 leaders have agreed on climate language in final communiqué

The leaders of the Group of 20 major economies reached an agreement on the wording of the final communiqué that will be released at the end of their two-day summit, a G20 official told Reuters on Sunday.

No further details were immediately available.

Diplomats have been negotiating hard-to-bridge differences on how to tackle global warming, with the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies, the end of coal power, and a firm date for achieving net zero carbon emissions between the main points. conflicting, sources said Sunday.

“Fighting climate change is the ultimate challenge of our time,” Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who chairs the G20 this year, told his fellow leaders as he opened the day’s discussions.

“Either we act now, face the cost of the transition and succeed in moving our economy onto a more sustainable path or we delay, pay a much higher price later and risk failure.”

Given that drafts of the communiqué show little success in terms of new commitments to curb pollution or greenhouse gases, climate scientists and activists are likely to be disappointed unless late breakthroughs are made.

The G20 bloc, which includes Brazil, China, India, Germany and the United States, accounts for about 80% of global gas emissions that scientists say must be drastically reduced to avoid a climate catastrophe.

For that reason, this weekend’s meeting is seen as a vital stepping stone to the UN’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. The meeting will attract nearly 200 countries and most of the G20 leaders will fly there directly from Rome.

A person holds the inflatable Earth as climate activists, including Extinction Rebellion and Fridays for Future, stage a protest demanding more action as G20 climate and environment ministers hold a meeting in Naples, Italy, on July 22, 2021 (credit : GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE / REUTERS)

“The latest reports are disappointing, with little sense of urgency in the face of an existential emergency,” said Oscar Soria of the activist network Avaaz. “There is no more time for vague wish lists, we need concrete commitments and actions.”


A fifth draft of the final G20 statement seen by Reuters on Saturday did not toughen language on climate action compared to earlier versions. In some key areas, such as the need to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, it softened it.

This mid-century deadline is a goal that, according to United Nations experts, is necessary to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, seen as the limit to avoid dramatic climate change.

UN experts say that even if current national plans to curb emissions are fully implemented, the world is heading towards a 2.7 ° C warming.

The United Nations says that would overburden the destruction that climate change is already causing by intensifying storms, exposing more people to deadly heat and flooding, killing coral reefs and destroying natural habitats.

The largest carbon emitter on the planet, China, is aiming for net zero in 2060, while other big polluters like India and Russia have also failed to commit to the mid-century deadline.

G20 energy and environment ministers who met in Naples in July failed to agree on setting a date to phase out fossil fuel subsidies and end coal power, and called on the leaders to find a resolution at this weekend’s summit.

According to the latest draft, they have made little progress, promising to “do everything possible” to stop building new coal-fired power plants before the late 2030s and saying they will phase out fossil fuel subsidies “in the medium term.” .

On the other hand, they commit to stop financing coal-fired power generation abroad by the end of this year.

Some developing countries are reluctant to commit to steep emissions cuts until rich nations deliver on a promise made 12 years ago to provide $ 100 billion per year starting in 2020 to help them tackle the effects of global warming.

That promise has yet to be kept, contributing to “mistrust” that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Friday he was ruining progress in the climate negotiations.

World leaders will kick off COP26 on Monday with two days of speeches that could include some new emission reduction promises, before technical negotiators get down to business on the rules of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Any deal is likely to close hours or even days after the event’s end date on November 12.


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