Climate issues could bog things down at G20 summit


Several world leaders will meet this weekend during the 18th G20 summit to discuss climate issues. However, there is little hope that the divided leaders will agree on a plan to deal with the crisis.

Due to geopolitical tensions, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, will miss the talks. This is one of the indications that the group is unlikely to even issue the traditional final communiqué, let alone any tangible undertakings on the climate.

Amnesty International warns that this would be a “catastrophic” failure for the countries responsible for 80% of the world’s harmful emissions.

Three key climate issues will be discussed in New Delhi, India. These include talks on international renewable energy capacity to be tripled by 2030, economies to be weaned off fossil fuels such as coal, and financing for the transition to sustainable power generation in developing countries.

In July, G20 energy ministers failed to even mention coal in their final statement and there was no progress on renewable energy targets.

“The statements that have been made are hopelessly inadequate,” said Simon Stiell, head of climate change at the United Nations (UN).

The background against which the summit is taking place can hardly make the situation any clearer: The European Union’s (EU) climate monitor warned this week that this year will probably be the hottest in human memory. Antonio Guterres, head of the UN, also said that the rising mercury indicates the beginning of the “collapse of the climate”.

“Our climate is exploding faster than we can handle,” he warned.

Evidence of the extreme climatic condition has been abundant in recent years. Devastating floods, record heat and deadly wildfires have been experienced in many parts of the world in the past few months.

The G20 countries are responsible for 85% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) and nearly as much emissions, making action at the summit vital for any real progress in tackling the climate crisis.

Countries demand climate finance

The latest research shows that world leaders who are part of the G20 member countries’ number of emissions per capita due to coal have increased since 2015.

The 9% increase is attributed to countries such as India, Indonesia and China which have grown and developed exponentially in the past few years.

The countries’ dependence on coal, together with geopolitical friction over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as the disputes with China, will complicate any agreement on the state of affairs.

Another thorny issue at the summit is the one about financing for developing countries to switch to more renewable energy sources.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi insisted before the summit that climate goals must go hand in hand with “the issue of climate finance and technology transfer”.

Developed countries have already failed to fulfill a promise to provide a total of $100 billion per year in climate finance to developing countries by 2020.

Amnesty International appealed to the developed world to “deliver, and significantly increase” that funding and warned of the implications if no real action is seen at the G20 summit.

African countries also this week called for $600 billion in renewable energy investments, paid for in part by global carbon taxes.

They also want debt relief and restructuring, and the rapid implementation of a “loss and damage” fund for countries that are particularly vulnerable due to climate change.

One bright spot in the talks could be the push for renewable energy, with draft documents believed to contain an undertaking to aim for a global tripling of power generation capacity by 2030.

While the details of how that goal will be achieved have yet to be clarified, it is already a big step that the leaders have agreed to hold talks about it.