The G20 supports stronger climate action, but will not end the use of coal

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ROME – At the Sunday summit in Rome, G20 leaders pledged to take stronger action than ever before to limit global warming, but failed to reach an agreement on the phasing out of coal.

The signal of the world’s leading economies has been closely watched COP26 UN climate summit, which began in Glasgow, Scotland at the time of the deal.

“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,” Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, host of the G20, told leaders.

Alok Sharma, the British minister who is president of COP26, said in a speech from Glasgow that he “cautiously hopes for what I hear from Rome … I know the discussions have not been easy.” However, he added: “States are clearly visible in terms of the urgency of science.”

G20 text, acquired by POLITICO, commits leaders to take further action during this decade and to design, implement, update and, if necessary, improve our contributions for 2030. They agreed that this is the minimum necessary to maintain a lower temperature target 1, 5 degrees Celsius in the Paris Agreement “at your fingertips”.

That was not enough for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who looked disappointed as he headed towards Glasgow. “I’m leaving Rome with unfulfilled hopes – but at least they’re not buried,” he said.

The G20 result leaves room for a major battle over which countries need to raise their climate goals over this decade and by how much. Europe and the US put pressure on China and India in preparation for COP26. But Beijing and New Delhi responded by saying that rich countries have a duty to do more.

During the debate among G20 leaders, some clearly felt the weight of history on themselves. “The fall of the Roman Empire teaches us that when things start to go downhill, they do so very quickly,” the British prime minister said. Boris Johnson.

In the agreement, leaders said they recognized the “key importance” of achieving net zero global emissions “by or around the middle of the century.” This accelerates the agreement reached by all countries in Paris in 2015 to achieve this goal in the second half of the 21st century.

According to a G20 official, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who attended her last meeting of the group of 20 leading economies, said the meeting was “crucial as it takes place on the eve of COP26”. We are sending a very clear message: we are even more ambitious than the Paris Agreement.

The G20 is a diverse group of countries that account for about 80 percent of global emissions and have very different interests when it comes to climate policy.

Although there were positive signals from the group, which usually tried to find a common language on this issue, they did not commit to the key objectives at coal and the reduction in methane that would be needed to reach the 1.5-degree target.

Leaders agreed to complete international public funding for new coal-fired power plants by the end of this year and encourage a move away from polluting fuels by increasing international funding for green projects.

However, they failed to reach an agreement on phasing out coal energy or stopping the construction of new coal-fired power plants.

According to a G20 official, the deal was reached on Sunday morning after all-night talks between diplomats.

Large coal exporters and consumers – such as China, Australia, India and Russia – have resisted pressure from European and British diplomats for the group to agree to stop using the most polluting fossil fuel.

Leaders acknowledged for the first time that methane emissions are a major climate problem and that tackling them is a cost-effective solution, but rejected a proposal to reduce them over the decade.

Developing countries were appalled by a recent report that developed countries – many of them in the G20 – missed the agreed deadline provide $ 100 billion a year by 2020 to support climate action for poorer countries. The G20 has pledged to meet this target “as soon as possible” and said it is expected “by 2023 at the latest”.

As another key signal for developing countries before COP26, the group recognized the need for a better balance between funding to reduce emissions and funding efforts to manage the impact of climate change. Currently, most of the funds are earmarked for the former.

But Greenpeace International boss Jennifer Morgan said leaders “simply failed to meet the moment.”

“They are now moving to Glasgow, where there is still a chance to seize the historic opportunity, but Australia and Saudi Arabia need to be marginalized, while rich countries must finally realize that the key to unlocking COP26 is trust,” she said. .

After the summit, Johnson told reporters, “We had a reasonable G20,” but “that’s not enough.”

“If we do not act now, we will look at the Paris Agreement in the future not as a moment when humanity has opened its eyes to the problem, but as a moment when we have shuddered and turned away,” he said.

This article was updated with comments from UN Secretary-General António Guterres and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

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