December 8, 2022

The G20 pledge to take climate action and lack of ambition

The G20 pledge to take climate action has been criticised for ‘lacking ambition’. The group of 20 countries – which includes the US, Canada and China – have agreed that they will stop using coal by 2030, but some are claiming that this is not nearly enough. According to the World Coal Association there are currently three countries in Africa without any coal-fired power stations, while 15% of electricity generated in G20 countries comes from coal.

The Independent are reporting that Greenpeace’s senior climate advisor, Li Shuo said this of the pledge: It is not really a departure from business as usual… Coal would still be allowed to be extracted with significant effects on communities and environments. I think it sets the tone for future international negotiations on coal.

Despite this, there is light at the end of the tunnel and looking good for climate action: According to Reuters, the G20 communique also called for a phase down of certain highly polluting HFCs [Hydrofluorocarbons] under the Montreal Protocol – including by fast-tracking the adoption by 2020 of an amendment with binding targets. This is huge news due to the high impact low-lying countries have to this chemical.

In terms of other climate action, another positive from this G20 was that there were no major stand offs between world leaders over climate change. In 2015, the US and China famously clashed on this issue. This time, Donald Trump’s change of heart seems to have been forgiven and the US delegation is understood to have agreed with other G20 members that a just transition away from coal does not require any new funding or subsidies.

The G20 communique also pledged to use the ‘financial system to its full potential’ for climate finance. This means that they recognise that more needs to be done with financing and will work on this over the next year.

The Paris Agreement was written in an aspirational way, rather than a policy driven document, which has led to questions over how emissions will be measured. The G20 agree that each country should measure, report and verify their own emissions in accordance with standards set by the UNFCCC, which means there are no plans to create a legally binding requirement on countries to set targets.

The UK is seen as playing a leading role at this summit given our recent decision to leave the European Union. The UK’s envoy, Matthew Rowland said: We are more determined than ever before to demonstrate our global leadership on climate change and sustainable finance.

Climate Action Network Europe is running a campaign called Coal-free G20 . They believe that it is the G20’s responsibility to ensure that the global energy mix is clean, which means phasing out coal power by 2030.

However despite the push to go coal free by 2030, research has found that over 80% of coal resources are already being developed or are under construction. Scientists have said countries need to move away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible if they want to meet the Paris Agreement.