None of the countries in the G20 are on course to reduce climate change, report says

Posted at 9:35 AM, Nov 14, 2018

None of the countries that make up the G20 group of major world economies is on course to adequately reduce climate change, with 82% of the bloc's energy supply still coming from fossil fuels, a new report has warned.

Of the countries, only India has set targets that would keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, the upper limit recommended by the Paris Climate Agreement, if adopted globally.

Overall, the world is heading for a 3.2-degree rise, the organization Climate Transparency said, in an analysis of the G20's current emissions-cutting targets for 2030 published Wednesday.

Targets set by the worst offenders -- Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey -- would lead to a rise of more than 4 degrees if they were adopted worldwide, the report added.

The G20 comprises representatives from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The landmark Paris Agreement, drafted in 2015, resulted in an aim to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels, with 2 degrees set as an upper limit.

But the report cautions that those targets are virtually impossible to reach at current rates. It follows similar warnings made last month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which found that the earth will reach the crucial 1.5 degree threshold as early as 2030.

"The G20 economies actually need to cut their emissions by half by 2030 to keep warming below 1.5°C," said Jan Burck, senior adviser at equality NGO Germanwatch, one of the report's authors. Germanwatch is one of 14 partners that make up Climate Transparency.

"But instead of responding to the urgency of climate change, the G20 countries continue to pour money into factors that drive climate disruption, like fossil fuel subsidies, instead of taking stronger action," he added.

G20 countries account for around 80% of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Resources Institute.


Fossil fuel subsidies condemned


Several experts involved with the report criticized the G20's continued reliance on fossil fuels.

"It's in the G20's own economic interests to shift from brown to green energy, but we're still seeing major investment into the fossil fuel industry, along with huge subsidies," said Charlene Watson of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).

Fossil fuel subsidies from G20 nations totaled $444 billion a year, according to a 2015 study by the ODI.

Individual nations were also singled out by the report, with Britain and France praised for commitments to phase out fossil fuel vehicles, but several others countries were criticized for setting insufficient goals.

"Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and the United States lack ambitious renewable energy targets and policies," said Niklas Höhne co-founder of the NewClimate Institute, who co-authored the report.

Deforestation was also highlighted, with the report noting rapid forest loss in Brazil, Argentina and Indonesia and warning that of those countries, "none show any signs of reversing this trend."

Brazil's newly-elected far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has promised to open up tracts of the Amazon rainforest to development, prompting an outcry from environmental groups.

"We hope our new President will keep Brazil in the leadership of climate negotiations and increase climate action within the country," said William Wills, research coordinator at Brazilian organization Clima, which contributed to the report.

This year's G20 summit will take place in Argentina from November 30.

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