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  • Writer's pictureKarl Oppenheimer

G20 Nations Commit to Boost Clean Energy, But No Consensus on Fossil Fuel Phase-Out

In a landmark decision, the Group of 20 (G20) leaders announced on Saturday their commitment to triple renewable energy efforts and bolster funding for climate change-related disasters. However, the status quo remains unchanged in the context of phasing out carbon-emitting coal.

Following the G20 leaders' announcement, which collectively represents nations responsible for 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions, Amitabh Kant, a senior Indian government official leading some of the G20 negotiations, lauded the agreement as "arguably the most vibrant, dynamic, and ambitious document on climate action."

While many climate and energy experts tempered their enthusiasm, they acknowledged that the G20 leaders had sent a strong message regarding climate action. This development comes as the world grapples with an escalating frequency of natural disasters, including severe heatwaves. Global leaders and climate experts view this declaration as a significant step forward, setting the stage for a potentially ambitious climate accord at the forthcoming global climate conference, COP28, slated to be held in Dubai later this year.

Sultan al-Jaber, who will preside over the climate summit in Dubai, emphasized the potency of the declaration, stating, "These 20 countries account for 80% of global emissions, so this declaration sends a powerful signal for climate progress."

However, some climate activists argued that more substantial efforts are required. Harjeet Singh of Climate Action Network International pointed out, "While the G20's commitment to renewable energy targets is commendable, it sidesteps the root cause — our global dependency on fossil fuels." A report by the Global Energy Monitor revealed that G20 countries host 93% of the world's operating coal power plants and 88% of proposed new coal power plants lacking carbon capture technologies.

Singh, who has been actively engaged in international climate negotiations for over two decades, called on wealthy nations within the G20 to lead by example, translating promises into concrete actions to pave the way for a greener and more equitable future for all.

In a noteworthy departure, the G20 nations reached a consensus on the financial requirements to transition to clean energy. The agreement stipulates that developing countries will require $5.9 trillion by 2030 to meet their climate targets. Moreover, an annual sum of $4 trillion will be indispensable until the decade's end if these nations are to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Madhura Joshi, an energy analyst based in Mumbai affiliated with the climate think tank E3G, acknowledged the positive strides taken at this G20 summit, but expressed disappointment regarding the absence of an agreement on phasing out fossil fuels. She emphasized that the expansion of renewables and the reduction of fossil fuels must proceed concurrently, calling for more robust action from world leaders in both areas. All eyes are now fixed on COP28, where the world anticipates whether these leaders can deliver on their climate commitments.

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