G20 ‘missing in action’ on fossil fuels even as it boosts green energy goals


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G20 leaders were “missing in action” on the most critical aspect of limiting climate change, advocacy groups said, after the major economies failed to set a timeline for the end of fossil fuel use without the emissions captured.

The group of 20 countries, which account for about 80 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, agreed on a goal to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030 globally, taking their cue from the G7 earlier this year.

But the leaders’ declaration failed to include any reference to the phase out of oil and gas, despite the burning of fossil fuels being the biggest contributor to human-induced global warming.

They committed only to a “phasedown” of coal “in line with national circumstances”, and avoided reference to phasing out all polluting fuels.

The action is deemed “indispensable” by the United Nations in the most recent assessment of the efforts of almost 200 countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

In the UN’s first ever “global stock take”, it found the world was way off track to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 2C, or ideally 1.5C, above pre-industrial levels.

“To have any chance of meeting the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limitation goal, sharp reductions in the production and use of all fossil fuels . . . are essential, and on that issue, the G20 leaders are missing in action,” Alden Meyer, senior associate at E3G, the climate consultancy, said.

Attention will now turn to whether countries can agree a phase out of all fossil fuels at COP28, the UN climate summit due to take place at the end of the year in Dubai, despite growing geopolitical tensions.

Saudi Arabia and China led efforts by fossil fuel reliant economies to block an agreement on the end of fossil fuels during meetings of G20 climate and energy ministers in July.

According to people familiar with discussions, Saudi Arabia pushed back against a renewable energy target, instead calling for greater promotion of the use of carbon capture and storage technologies that would allow for the continued production of oil and gas.

A proposal from India to phase out fossil fuels at COP27 last year won backing from more than 80 countries. The EU is expected to push for a phase out at this year’s climate summit, alongside other countries.

While there was no agreement on fossil fuels, the G20’s pledge to boost green energy was widely welcomed.

The UAE’s Sultan al-Jaber, president-designate of COP28, said he was “specifically grateful for the commitment” involving the ambitious renewable energy target, which he aims to reach a global agreement on at COP28.

Andreas Sieber, 350.org associate director of policy and campaigns, said the agreement to triple renewable energy was “a historic step, a glimmer of hope in our battle against climate chaos”. 

Western officials said securing backing from developing nations for more ambitious climate goals was one trade-off obtained in exchange for removing more critical language of Russia in the section of the joint statement that referred to Moscow’s war against Ukraine.

In a reference to carbon capture facilities, which are not proven at scale, the G20 declaration said as well as expanding renewable energy, countries agreed to show “similar ambition with respect to other zero and low-emission technologies, including abatement and removal technologies, in line with national circumstances by 2030”.

They also acknowledged the need to mobilise $4tn a year by 2030 in finance for clean energy technologies in developing countries in order to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The G20 also backed reform of multilateral development banks such as the World Bank to provide additional lending to deal with climate change.

During the summit, the G20 agreed to include the African Union as a member of the group. Mohamed Adow, founder and director of Powershift Africa, said the inclusion of countries at the “very front line of the climate crisis” would hopefully “provide some impetus to improve the quality and urgency of the G20’s response to climate change”.

Additional reporting by Henry Foy in New Delhi

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Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden is a news writer for LinkDaddy News. She writes health, sport, tech, and more. Some of her favorite topics include the latest trends in fitness and wellness, the best ways to use technology to improve your life, and the latest developments in medical research.

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