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G20 nations fail to reach agreement on cutting fossil fuels

A crunch G20 meeting in India has resulted in complete failure. There is still no consensus on how fossil fuels should be phased down and disputes continue over the goal to triple the capacity of renewables by 2030.

Climate experts and ecological outfits have been exasperated by the foot dragging of official bodies and their inability to take urgent action against global warming.

As has been the case too often, a supposed crunch meeting organised by the G20 just resulted in complete failure to align on anything conducive.

Responsible for more than three quarters of global emissions and gross domestic product, the group amassed in Panaji, India, to thrash out decarbonisation plans over a four-day period.

With the talks now wrapped up, however, officials have issued a chair summary instead of a joint communique. In laymen’s terms, this means that while there was no complete agreement from member nations on all issues, a consensus was reached on some. Frustrating, we know.

‘We had a complete agreement on 22 out of 29 paragraphs, and seven paragraphs constitute the chair summary,’ said Indian minister, RK Singh.

As per usual, the mobilisation of funds to nations disproportionately impacted by climate change – $100bn collectively a year from 2020-2025 – became a real sticking point during discussions, despite that figure being pledged way back at COP26.

Fossil fuel use was another lightning rod topic as officials failed to sign on a deal to cut their ‘unabated’ use. According to a source close to the discussions, there were also quarrels over nuances in the language which would comprise a deal to cut emissions.

While nations haven’t been named specifically in this instance, we know from previous reports that Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, South Africa, and Indonesia are among those who oppose the idea of tripling renewable energy capacity this decade.

On the use of nascent technology, Singh said in a post-meet press briefing that some delegates wanted to prioritise carbon capture instead of transitioning away from fossil fuel use. We know from the IPCC’s Synthesis Report, that failing to do both will leave us on a rapid path to over 1.5C warming before the mid-century.

A draft late on Friday (July 21) specifically noted ‘the importance of making efforts towards the phase down of unabated fossil fuels,’ but offered a get out with the stipulation ‘in line with different national circumstances,’ which will no doubt lead to flimsy excuses once more.

To add insult to injury, the forthcoming COP28 conference is due to be held in the United Arab Emirates with oil boss Sultan Al Jaber as its president.

Given the distinct lack of tangible ecological progress and continued bureaucratic reluctance, it’s safe to say that activists won’t be putting their placards down anytime soon.