G20 bloc fails to reach agreement on cutting fossil fuels

By Reuters   July 22, 2023 | 07:26 pm PT
G20 bloc fails to reach agreement on cutting fossil fuels
Labourers work next to electricity pylons in Mumbai, India, October 13, 2021. Photo by Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas
The Group of 20 (G20) major economies meeting in India failed on Saturday to reach consensus on phasing down fossil fuels following objections by some producer nations.

Scientists and campaigners are exasperated by international bodies' foot-dragging on action to curb global warming even as extreme weather from China to the United States underlines the climate crisis facing the world.

The G20 member countries together account for over three-quarters of global emissions and gross domestic product, and a cumulative effort by the group to decarbonize is crucial in the global fight against climate change.

However, disagreements including the intended tripling of renewable energy capacities by 2030 resulted in officials issuing an outcome statement and a chair summary instead of a joint communique at the end of their four-day meeting in Bambolim, in the Indian coastal state of Goa.

A joint communique is issued when there is complete agreement between member nations on all issues.

"We had a complete agreement on 22 out of 29 paragraphs, and seven paragraphs constitute the Chair summary," Indian Power Minister R.K. Singh said.

Sections urging developed countries to deliver on the goal of jointly mobilizing $100 billion per year for climate action in developing economies from 2020-2025, and a description of the war in Ukraine, also eluded consensus.

Fossil fuel use became a lightning rod in day-long discussions, but officials failed to reach consensus over curbing "unabated" use and argued over the language to describe the pathway to cut emissions, two sources familiar with the matter said.

A draft late on Friday reviewed by Reuters read: "The importance of making efforts towards phase down of unabated fossil fuels, in line with different national circumstances, was emphasized."

However, the chair statement released on Saturday evening included concerns from some member nations which were missing in the Friday draft, noting that "others had different views on the matter that abatement and removal technologies will address such concerns".

Singh, in a press briefing after the conference, said some countries wanted to use carbon capture instead of a phase down of fossil fuels. He did not name the countries.

Major fossil fuel producers Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, South Africa and Indonesia are all known to oppose the goal of tripling renewable energy capacity this decade.

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