Even though the G20 during its New Delhi summit agreed on scaling up renewable energy targets, it sidestepped on phasing down the unabated use of fossil fuel and fell short of steps to achieve the goal of capping global warming.
Climate experts and environmental scientists argue that the outcome of the G20 in the Indian capital loosely mirrors events from several summits in the past, and bears worrying indicators for the UN Climate Conference to be held in Dubai this November.
“Despite record-shattering temperatures, raging wildfires, drought, floods and other climate disasters over recent months impacting tens of millions of people, G20 leaders have collectively failed to deliver anything meaningful on climate change this year", Tracy Carty, Global Climate Politics Expert at Greenpeace International, said.
G20’s reckless failure to act will be measured in further lives and livelihoods lost. Leaders failed to reach an agreement on the phase-out of all fossil fuels. They also made a timid commitment to triple renewables, but only through ‘existing targets and policies’, he said.
Experts insist that the leaders of the world’s leading economies must have at least doubled to stop the rise in global temperature above 1.5 °C.
“The richer G20 countries had a choice. On the one hand, climate catastrophe and the other, to drastically reduce their emissions and provide sufficient levels of climate finance to the Global South. If G20 countries do not agree to change their positions on these issues, they are guaranteeing failure at the COP28 conference in Dubai,” said Oxfam Climate Change spokesperson Ashfaq Khalfan.
G20 members include the world’s biggest economies – the United States, China, Japan, the European Union, Germany and Britain – and together account for 80 per cent of global gross domestic product and 75 per cent of international trade. The G20 is responsible for 78 per cent of all territorial greenhouse gas emissions.
New research commissioned by Oxfam International shows global greenhouse gas emissions are set to rise by 10.6 per cent by 2030 instead of falling by the 45 per cent needed to limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5 °C.
Experts point out that the G20 countries are the worst and most-responsible offenders with their per capita greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 will collectively remain at similar levels as they are today – nearly double the amount needed to avoid catastrophic impacts.
They emit the equivalent of 7.4 to 7.7 tonnes of CO2 per person on average each year, of territorial emissions. To keep below 1.5 °C, they must at least halve this to between 2.9 to 3.8 tons per person by 2030.
However, the New Delhi declaration insisted that emissions worldwide have to fall by at least 43 per cent by 2030 from the levels in 2019 to achieve the key goal under the Paris Agreement, which was signed in 2015.
Since then many countries have strengthened their climate commitments during the annual UN climate conferences known as COPs. At the end of the 2021 gathering, countries pledged they would come to the next year’s conference, COP27 in Egypt, with even more ambition.
They came, and vowed many steps... still, they are not enough to prevent catastrophic warming or adapt to its consequences.
Despite the lack of rapid steps and a clear timeline to end production of fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas, and steps for climate-related changes -- the summit was hailed as a success for its commitments under the declaration.
Among them are an agreement to triple renewable energy production and a $4 trillion spending goal to achieve a clean energy transition. The Group also admitted the African Union as a member to amplify the voice of developing economies in the south.
Climate change is caused by human activities and threatens life on Earth as we know it. With rising greenhouse gas emissions, climate change is occurring at rates much faster than anticipated. If left unchecked, climate change will undo a lot of the development progress made over the past years. It will also provoke mass migrations that will lead to instability and wars.
As Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General pointed out in New Delhi prior to the summit, "All of this is within reach -- but it will take all hands. No nation, no region, no group - not even the G20 -- can do it alone. We must act together as one family to save our one earth and safeguard our one future”.
The writer is journalist and author