Glasgow: G20 leaders have committed to revisit and further enhance their 2030 emission reduction targets. This must now paint the way for negotiators at the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) that opened in Glasgow with the key aims of raising ambition on all fronts, experts said on Monday.
However, some believe G20 made a mild pledge on climate change that is now an existential threat to humanity.
The G20 Summit wrapped on Sunday in Rome as the two-week long COP26 climate talks kicked off in Glasgow.
The G20 communique includes several signals calling for bold climate action. G20 leaders noted the importance of strengthening national climate action this decade and reach net-zero emissions by or around mid-century and for the first time committed to halt international financing for building unabated coal-fired power plants abroad.
Responding to the G20 announcement to scale up support for clean power, World Resources Institute Vice President (Climate and Economics) Helen Mountford told IANS: “G20 leaders made some progress heading into the COP26 summit in Glasgow, calling for accelerated climate action this decade, phasing out international coal financing, and recognizing the importance of reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century.
“It is noteworthy that G20 leaders committed to revisit and further enhance their 2030 emission reduction targets where necessary. This must now paint the way for negotiators at COP26 to agree that major emitters will come back in the next couple of years to further strengthen their 2030 targets to align with avoiding the 1.5 degrees C temperature threshold.
“While the latest national climate plans have shifted us to a much better trajectory than the one before the Paris Agreement was struck, they do not achieve the deep emission reductions necessary to avoid the most dangerous levels of warming.”
According to Mountford, for the first time, G20 leaders collectively recognized the importance of reaching net-zero emissions by or around mid-century.
“It is impressive that 90 per cent of G20 countries have now indicated some intention to reach net-zero, which would have been unfathomable just a few years ago.
“G20 countries deserve credit for sending an unequivocal message that they will stop financing unabated coal power abroad, yet they failed to make the obvious leap to stop building coal-fired plants at home as well. At COP26, countries can continue to sound the death knell for the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel. Shifting investments to clean energy is just common sense given it is cheaper almost everywhere.”
Seeing the G20 statement extremely disappointing, Namrata Chowdhary, Chief of Public Engagement at 350.org said: “Heads of state from the world’s richest — and therefore most powerful — countries had the opportunity to radically reset multilateral politics and generate the commitments necessary to keep global heating below 1.5 degrees Celsius, to protect workers, communities, the environment and future generations.
“Instead, they’ve made a contradictory and empty statement on climate: they’ve restated their commitment to keeping global heating below 1.5 degrees Celsius, but failed to commit to any action themselves, not even agreeing that their national climate plans must be improved.
“Right now, they have us on a path to nearly 3 degrees of heating. These so-called leaders need to do better. They have another shot at this: starting tomorrow (Monday).”
Representatives from the most impacted people and areas, along with thousands of campaigners for climate justice from around the world, are heading to Glasgow to hold them accountable at COP26.
On finance, the G20 leaders agreed to use recovery plans for climate, mobilise more from development banks (World Bank etc.) and new commitment to mobilise public and private for green development.
Ulka Kelkar, Climate Policy Director, WRI India, said: “The G20 leaders’ call to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is very significant. COP26 now needs to back it up with measures to cut emissions rapidly in this decade and urgently scale up climate finance.”
Climate change think tank E3G’s Senior Associate Alden Meyer said: “The acknowledgement by G20 leaders that akeeping 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach will require meaningful and effective actions and commitment by all countries,’ together with their pledge to aaccelerate our actions across mitigation, adaptation and finance’ and ato take further action this decade’ is an important signal.
“But much hard work — especially on issues of climate finance — remains ahead if COP26 is to reach agreement on concrete ways to address the huge gap in ambition between what countries have currently committed to under the Paris Agreement and what is needed to keep 1.5 degrees C alive and help vulnerable countries and communities cope with the mounting impacts of climate change.
“Leaders must instruct their ministers and negotiators to turn this rhetoric into reality over the next two weeks if Glasgow is to truly represent a turning point in our common endeavour of confronting the climate emergency.”
In the backdrop of a series of reports and studies warning that urgent action is needed to keep the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global average temperature increases to 1.5C within reach, COP26 opened on Sunday with the key aims of raising ambition on all fronts and finalising the agreement’s implementation guidelines.
“We are extremely grateful to the government of the UK for hosting this crucially important conference in these unprecedented times and for making every effort to keep all participants safe and healthy,” UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said.
“The devastating loss of lives and livelihoods this year due to extreme weather events clarifies how important it is to convene COP26 despite the impacts of the pandemic still being felt. We are on track for a global temperature rise of 2.7C, while we should be heading for the 1.5C goal. Clearly, we are in a climate emergency.”