G20 summit disappoints on climate protection

Even in the face of global forest fires, droughts and floods, industrialised nations did not want to commit to more resolute climate protection.(Source: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire)

Climate activists complain of an “absurdly large” gap between the promises made by large G20 industrialised nations and their actual commitment against global warming. “On one hand, the seriousness of commitments for climate protection will be measured by the decisions made at the climate summit in Dubai. On the other hand, it will depend on whether a massive acceleration for renewable energy and energy efficiency, a reduction of coal, oil and gas as well as a new scale of climate investments are successful everywhere”, said Christoph Bals, Policy Director of Germanwatch.

Bals recognised that the oil-producing countries, Russia and Saudi Arabia, in particular would have prevented announcing an exit from oil and gas in the final statements at the summit that ended this past Sunday in New Dehli. It is about retaining power for them. “Both countries want to secure their position in the world by continuing to sell oil and gas.”

From Greenpeace’s point of view, the G20 summit ended with a “disappointing outcome on climate change.” Tracy Carty, Global Climate Politics Expert at Greenpeace International, criticised: “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.”

Greenpeace pointed out that the continued use of fossil fuels will cost human lives and result in the lost of livelihoods. “Fossil fuels are killing us,” Carty stated.

Calls for funding and commitment

President of the World Resources Institute, Ani Dasgupta, also categorised the G20 decisions as insufficient – especially considering that the planet just experienced the hottest summer of all time. “The world is burning, people are starving, and the world is not on track to meet its climate goals,” he warned.

“They [the G20] should commit to triple renewable energy and significantly grow fossil-free transport, transform our food systems, bolster resilience, and deliver the finance that climate-vulnerable countries need,” Dasgupta said. Wealthy countries would need to forgive debts of poor countries that suffer the most from the climate crisis.

In general, the G20 would also need to quickly move away from climate-damaging energy sources like oil, coal and gas. Meanwhile, renewable energies such as wind and solar are cheaper in most regions in the world as it is. Dasgupta calls on wealthy countries to demonstrate more leadership with these measures.

Promises for 2030

As a real glimmer of hope, also for the World Climate Conference this December in Dubai, Germanwatch noted that the G20 wanted to triple their capacity for renewable energies by 2030. “[…] It will be determined in Dubai whether the Paris climate goals are, in fact, within reach”, Bals said.

In addition, according to Germanwatch, the countries acknowledged for the first time that financial flows must be organised “on a whole new scale” to pay for climate protection, adaptation to global warming and damage management. To raise money for this, Bals suggested that international shipping and air transport have additional levies and to restructure global financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund as well.

Greenpeace researcher, Carty, critically assessed the announcement to expand capacity for renewable energies: She stated that heads of states of governments had failed to agree on phasing out all fossil fuels. They also had only made “timid” commitments within “existing targets and policies” to triple renewable energies. Considering the situation, the organisation calls on the G20 member states for “unity, urgency and ambition.”

Greenpeace also recognises a failure on the part of summit participants regarding financing international climate protection efforts: “G20 developed countries have utterly failed to take concrete steps to increase international financial support for climate action.” Existing financial pledges to poor countries such as providing 100 billion USD per year for climate finance until 2025 remain unfulfilled.

No signs of change in sight

The G20 countries are responsible for approximately 80 percent of all global emissions of climate-damaging greenhouse gases – especially carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane. Despite all promises made by the international community, worldwide emissions reached a new peak of 36.8 gigatons this past year, according to figures from the International Energy Agency.

In comparison to pre-industrial times, temperature has increased globally now already by approximately 1.1 degree Celsius – in fact, Germany’s temperature has increased by 1.6 degrees. The past eight years were the warmest years since weather records began. Fatal consequences of the climate crisis include longer and more severe droughts and heat waves, intense weather, storms and floods.

Even the host country of this year’s G20 summit, India, is among the countries most affected by climate change, according to Greenpeace. “In recent years, we have witnessed an increase in devastating and frequent extreme weather events, including cyclones, floods, and heatwaves, in many parts of the country.” The communites worldwide that contribute the least to the climate crisis continue to be those who pay the highest price. (dpa / hcz)