Group of 20 leaders agreed Saturday to triple renewable energy deployment and try to increase funding to address climate change-related disasters, but maintained the status quo on phasing out carbon spewing coal.
At a news conference shortly after the G20 leaders announced the agreement, Amitabh Kant, a senior Indian government official leading some of the G20 negotiations, called it “probably the most vibrant, dynamic, and ambitious document on climate action,” The Associated Press reports.
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While most climate and energy experts were not as ebullient, they agreed the G20 leaders had put out a strong message on climate action, even as the world is seeing increasingly frequent natural disasters such as extreme heat.
Even at the last meeting of the G20 climate ministers before the summit, disagreements had remained.
Global leaders and climate experts say the final leaders’ declaration had taken the conversation forward, setting the stage for an ambitious climate agreement when they meet for the UN’s COP 28 climate summit in Dubai later this year.
“These 20 countries account for 80% of global emissions, so this declaration sends a powerful signal for climate progress,” said Sultan al Jaber, the controversial fossil fuel CEO who will serve as COP president later this year.
Climate campaigners and analysts said more could be done.
“While the G20’s commitment to renewable energy targets is commendable, it sidesteps the root cause—our global dependency on fossil fuels,” said Harjeet Singh of Climate Action Network International.
According to a report by Global Energy Monitor, an organization that tracks a variety of energy projects around the world, the G20 countries are home to 93% of global operating coal power plants and 88% of new proposed coal power plants that don’t have carbon capture technologies.
“It’s high time for rich nations in this group to lead by example, turn their promises into actions, and help forge a greener, more equitable future for all,” said Singh, who has tracked international climate negotiations for more than two decades.
For the first time, the G20 countries agreed on the amounts required to shift to clean energy. The document says developing countries will need US$5.9 trillion through 2030 to meet their climate goals. Another $4 trillion will be needed every year until the end of the decade if developing countries are to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, it said.
“This G20 has seen many firsts,” said Madhura Joshi, a Mumbai-based energy analyst with the E3G climate think tank. “However, it’s disappointing that the G20 could not agree on phasing down fossil fuels.”
She added that “increasing renewables and reducing fossil fuels need to necessarily happen together—we need stronger bolder action from leaders on both. All eyes now on COP 28—can the leaders deliver?”
This Associated Press story was republished by The Canadian Press on September 9, 2023.