By Praveen Paramasivam and Kate Abnett
CHENNAI, India/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The Group of 20 (G20) major nations failed on Friday to agree on concrete targets to cut dangerous emissions, releasing only a statement that dismissed current measures to address climate change as “insufficient”.
The impasse – the latest in a string of inconclusive international conferences – came days after scientists again raised the alarm, saying human-induced climate change has played an “absolutely overwhelming” role in the extreme heatwaves that have swept across North America, Europe and China.
After three days of meetings in the southern Indian city of Chennai, organisers released a document showing the bloc remained divided on calls, led by developed nations, to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by 2025 and cut them by 60% by 2035 over 2019 levels.
Members could not agree on depleting carbon budgets, historical emissions, net-zero goals and the issue of financing to support developing countries, the document showed.
The Indian meeting had been seen as a chance for the world’s biggest polluters to take concrete steps ahead of a G20 leaders’ meeting in September in New Delhi and the COP28 Summit in the United Arab Emirates in December.
Developed countries in the group had demanded mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to 1.5 Celsius, an Indian official said.
The demands were opposed by developing countries who said the mitigation targets – aimed at cutting or eliminating greenhouse gas emissions, or removing them from the atmosphere – would limit their ability to develop infrastructure and grow, the official said.
China and oil-rich Saudi Arabia backed away from making commitments in the G20 talks, members of a European delegation said.
The EU’s Environment Commissioner said the G20 countries were “nowhere” on their commitments to address climate change.
Speaking at the end of the meeting, Virginijus Sinkevicius said some delegations had tried to walk back previous climate pledges – a stance he said Europe could not accept.
“We were asked to make bold choices, to demonstrate courage, commitment and leadership. But we, collectively, failed to achieve that. We cannot be driven by the lowest common denominator, or by narrow national interests. We cannot allow the pace of change to be set by the slowest movers in the room,” he said.
India’s environment and external affairs ministries did not respond to an email seeking comments on the commissioner’s remarks.
The failure to reach an agreement comes just a week after the G20 major economies’ disagreement on phasing down fossil fuels following objections by some producer nations.
(Reporting Praveen Paramasivam in Chennai; Sarita Chaganti Singh and Aftab Ahmed in Delhi; Kate Abnett in Brussels; editing by John Stonestreet, Angus MacSwan and Andrew Heavens)