Prevailing Geopolitics Endanger The Potential Of A Unified Global Response On Climate Action At G20: Experts – ABP Live

G20 Summit 2023: The 18th G20 Summit, which will be held in New Delhi from September 9 to 10, 2023, will focus on climate change mitigation and sustainable development. However, geopolitical tensions such as Russia’s War in Ukraine, the rivalry between the United States and China, and China President Xi Jinping and Russia President Vladimir Putin deciding not to attend the G20 Summit may cloud the success of the Summit, and may serve as obstacles to attaining a unified agreement on important climate issues such as the phaseout of fossil fuels, transition to clean and renewable energy, green financing, and sustainable development goals.

In order to understand more about how prevailing geopolitics can affect decisions on climate action at the G20 Summit, what has been lacking in the discussions held so far, and why a failure to make unanimous commitments can worsen the climate crisis and threaten effective action at the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), ABP Live spoke to Harjeet Singh, Head of Global Political Strategy, Climate Action Network International (CAN-I), a global network in over 130 countries working to combat climate crisis; and Ashish Fernandes, CEO, Climate Risk Horizons, a think tank that analyses the risk posed by climate change to India’s economy.

Not only the prevailing geopolitics, but also certain countries focusing only on themselves and not worrying about the environmental conditions in developing nations can endanger the potential of a unified global response on climate action. If a unanimous commitment is not made at the G20, the climate crisis can be worsened, and decisive action at the upcoming COP28 Climate Change Conference can be jeopardised.

“The prevailing geopolitics and an increasingly inward focus among countries jeopardise the potential of a unified global response. If the G20 falters in making unequivocal commitments, not only will it miss a golden opportunity to instil hope during this pressing climate crisis, but it might also jeopardise the momentum for decisive action at the forthcoming COP28 climate conference,” said Singh.

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What experts say about the steps countries must take at the G20 Summit

The G20 is responsible for 80 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. At the 18th G20 Summit, countries must unanimously agree to halt the construction of new coal power plants, and also pledge to speed up clean energy development in order to ensure that the global temperature does not cross the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold set by the Paris Agreement. It is also important to phase out fossil fuels, and repurpose existing coal plants. 

However, experts believe that so far, the G20 this year has not done much in terms of climate action.

The G20, which is responsible for 80% of the world’s GHG emissions, should immediately agree to stop the construction of new coal power plants at a minimum, while pledging to deliver the concessional finance needed to phase out and repurpose existing coal plants, and speed up clean energy development in line with a 1.5C trajectory. Unfortunately, the G20 has so far this year not done much in terms of climate action and so expectations are, sadly, low,” said Fernandes. 

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The G20 meetings have not focused much on the phaseout of fossil fuels, and there is also a lack of commitment from wealthy nations to provide climate finance to developing countries to help them achieve their climate targets, according to experts.  

“The ongoing progress observed in the G20 meetings raises concerns about the genuine acceleration of climate action, specifically the equitable phaseout of fossil fuels. It’s deeply disheartening to witness a lack of resolute commitment from affluent countries in providing the necessary climate finance that underpins developing nations’ efforts to achieve their climate objectives,” said Singh. 

“As the G20 collectively represents the lion’s share of the global economy, it bears a distinct responsibility in elevating ambition and steering the world towards a sustainable transition,” Singh concluded.

Therefore, as experts have suggested, a unified commitment to phase down fossil fuels, including coal, is necessary, and must make it to the final declaration.

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