Students of Gurukul School of Art pose with portraits of G20 heads of state drawn for the upcoming G20 summit, in Mumbai, India, 05 September 2023. EFE-EPA/DIVYAKANT SOLANKI

Climate change to dominate G20 summit amid policy differences

By David Asta Alares

Climate activists including Ugandan activist Venessa Nakate (2-L) hold placards and shout slogans during a march in Nairobi, Kenya, 04 September 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/Daniel Irungu

New Delhi, Sep 6 (EFE).- The flight against climate change is set to be a key topic during the G20 leaders’ summit being held in India the coming weekend, as the member nations are responsible for 80 percent of global CO2 emotions, and major world leaders have failed to reach significant agreements on fossil fuels and transition to a green economy.

Lydia Powell, a climate expert at Indian think-tank Observer Research Foundation, told EFE that India could push for “an ambitious commitment from richer countries, not only in terms of decarbonization, but also for financing” the energy transition of developing nations.

Amid expectations that G20 would take a lead in the summit, starting Saturday in New Delhi, with respect to limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, the results of two previous ministerial meetings of the bloc have hardly been promising.

“What we found based on the climate and energy-transition discussions, were documents that just did not contain any new commitments,” the head of climate change program at Indian nonprofit Center for Science and Environment, Avantika Goswami, told EFE.

According to Goswami, the G20 climate and energy transition ministers have simply repeated commitments that had already been adopted, but remained silent over more ambitious programs, such as transitioning from fossil fuels to other forms of energy.

“We found that a lot of the language around finance – something as crucial as energy transition finance – was completely missing. There were just existing commitments reiterated such as the $100 billion climate finance target and so on,” she said.

The lack of agreement among G20 members over the roadmap to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030 led to the president-designate of UN climate conference COP28, Sultan Al Jaber, to express his frustration after the G20 ministerial meeting on climate in July, held in the Indian city of Chennai.

The division within the bloc on a subject as crucial as climate change can be explained by the diversity among the members, which include advanced economies such as the United States, developing nations such as South Africa and Indonesia, and countries that depend on oil production, like Russia and Saudi Arabia.

What is more difficult to explain is China’s reported opposition on several aspects, including the financing mechanisms for energy transition in developing nations.

“The Chinese economy is going through its own problems at the moment (…) but why the Chinese delegation would actively block energy transition talks is a bit surprising, because China itself has some of the world’s highest numbers in terms of renewable energy installations,” Goswami said.

G20 economies account for nearly 90 percent of the global GDP and 80 percent of CO2 emissions worldwide, and therefore the group’s actions are considered critical both for reducing global fossil fuel emissions and helping the energy transition in underdeveloped countries.

The four largest CO2 emitters – China, United States, European Union and India – are all part of the bloc.

The International Institute of Sustainable Development reported in late August on how the G20 nations had subsidized fossil fuel at record levels in 2022.

Specifically, members of the group injected $1.4 trillion in the sector amid an energy crisis, despite having agreed in 2009 to gradually reduce subsidies to fossil fuels.

Therefore, experts have said that it is essential for G20 leaders to agree on measures such as fixing a deadline to reduce use of fossil fuels or at least on how to finance the energy transition of the poorest countries without increasing their debt burden.

One of the concrete outcomes expected during the summit is the establishment of a global alliance on biofuels – an initiative by host India – similar to the global alliance on solar energy launched in 2015, which includes 96 countries.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an interview last weekend that such alliances were aimed at “creating options for developing countries to advance their energy transitions.”

“Biofuels are also important from the perspective of a circular economy,” he added. EFE