The summit of the G20 — a group that brings together the 19 largest economies in the world, plus the European Union —, which took place in Rome last weekend, was marked by the attempts of the nations that make up the bloc to sign commitments to reduce the rate of atmospheric pollution and control of global warming, but the promises made at the meeting were not a consensus among all countries.
In the final declaration of the meeting, G20 leaders made a commitment to zero global net greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality “by the middle of the century”. There is a promise from part of the group’s countries to meet these two goals by 2050, as is the case with Brazil, but other G20 nations are asking for at least another 10 years to get rid of pollutants, such as China and Russia.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, host of this year’s meeting, said that divergence between nations is not such a serious problem. According to him, the important thing is that all members of the group, for the first time, set a time frame to fulfill the promises, however vague it may be.
“It’s not a specific commitment, that it will be exactly in 2050. But, before, there was no commitment at all. There was a speech of ‘maybe before the end of the century’. Now, this speech is full of hope. Of course there are adjustments and changes in the role, but gradually things happen. We’re going to get there slowly”, highlighted Draghi, in a press conference at the end of the meeting.
The prime minister said that he tried to listen to the motives of each of the countries that did not commit to reaching the goals until 2050 and avoided polemics. “The fact that some countries are reluctant to change… They have reasons behind it. We listened and understood each other’s point of view, but we kept our ambitions alive and shared with them. If we get into this climate fight, we’re not going anywhere”, he stressed.
In any case, the absence of the presidents of China, Xi Jinping, and of Russia, Vladimir Putin, at the meeting revealed a remnant of the lack of alignment between the G20 countries on the subject. Both sent video speeches for the ceremony. Xi said the group’s countries needed concrete actions to “accelerate the green transition”. Putin, meanwhile, emphasized that Russia will not only achieve carbon neutrality, but ensure that, over the next three decades, the accumulated volume of net emissions of greenhouse gases is lower than that of its European neighbors.
As much as Draghi tried to assuage the fact that not all countries will zero greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality in the same time, other world leaders criticized the lack of agreement.
“The disappointment is related to the fact that Russia and China have basically not come up in terms of any commitment to deal with climate change. I was disappointed. Climate problems are permanent issues”, complained the President of the United States, Joe Biden, also in a press interview.
“I leave Rome with my hopes unfulfilled, but at least they are not buried”, pondered the secretary general of the United Nations (UN), António Guterres.
The G20 meeting also sealed the commitment to keep the global average temperature rise below 2 °C and make efforts to limit it to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.
“Keeping 1.5 °C within reach will require significant and effective actions and commitment from all countries, taking into account different approaches, through the development of clear national pathways that align long-term ambition with short- and medium-term goals and with international cooperation and support, including finance and technology, sustainable and responsible consumption and production as critical enablers, in the context of sustainable development”, says the final declaration of the meeting.
Another goal set by the nations was to mobilize international public and private financing to support the development of green, inclusive and sustainable energy, to end the provision of international public financing for overseas coal-fired power generation by the end of 2021.
“We recognize the close link between climate and energy and commit to reducing emissions intensity as part of mitigation efforts in the energy sector to meet deadlines in line with the Paris temperature target. We will cooperate in the deployment and dissemination of zero or low carbon emissions and renewable technologies, including sustainable bioenergy, to enable a transition to low-emission energy systems.”
To combat land degradation and create new carbon sinks, countries have pledged to collectively plant 1 trillion trees, with a focus on the most degraded ecosystems on the planet. In addition, the G20 will donate $100 billion a year until 2025 to help developing countries finance projects that minimize global warming.