G20 goes big on climate targets, rich-poor divide persists

G20 conclave in Delhi under India’s leadership hammered out a difficult compromise on Ukraine.  In the melee, G20’s big commitment on climate change was pushed to the back seat.

Published: 13th September 2023 12:58 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th September 2023 12:58 AM   |  A+A-

G20 , G-20

The G20 conclave in Delhi under India’s leadership hammered out a difficult compromise on Ukraine. The joint declaration, a success story for India’s shuttle diplomacy, denounced the use of force for territorial gain but stopped short of naming Russia. In the melee, G20’s big commitment on climate change was pushed to the back seat. On environmental goals, the G20 declaration is unequivocal. It commits the world’s largest economies to accelerating clean, sustainable, just, affordable, and inclusive energy transitions. Significantly, the declaration commits to working towards tripling the global renewable energy capacity by 2030. The Delhi communique also did a spot of self-criticism, that progress on reversing climate change has been slow and reiterated its commitment to “achieving global net-zero greenhouse gas emissions/carbon neutrality by or around mid-century”.

The strong statement on arresting global warming under India’s presidency acquires greater significance for two reasons. First, it has scotched Chinese whispers that we take an ambivalent position on changeover to green fuels, considering India’s heavy dependence on coal power. Second, India has emerged as a bridge between the advanced countries who blame the poorer counterparts for missing targets, and the emerging economies who demand the West pays for the damage they started in the 19th century Industrial Revolution. On the summit sidelines, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Global Biofuel Alliance to accelerate the adoption of alternative energy solutions.

It must be said the Achilles’ heel of ‘dirty’ coal power remained unresolved. The declaration made no commitments to end new coal power plant construction. What is also emerging is the rich-poor divide on the Loss and Damage Fund set up in Egypt last year to mitigate the impact of climate related damage on poorer nations. The emerging nations have set their sights on a $100-billion fund by 2030. While the West has finally caved in to the concept of a Loss and Damage Fund, France and others have begun lobbying that its access be limited to least developed countries and island nations facing oceanic erosion. If accepted, this will effectively oust countries like India and Pakistan who do not fit into the ‘least developed’ category. It is therefore necessary that the developing world reactivates its alliance to ensure that such diversionary tactics do not succeed.

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