G20 leaders make commitments on climate neutrality, coal financing

World Sunday 31/October/2021 19:48 PM
G20 leaders make commitments on climate neutrality, coal financing

Rome: Leaders of the world’s biggest economies made a compromise commitment on Sunday to reach carbon neutrality “by or around mid-century” as they wrapped up a two-day summit that was laying the groundwork for the UN climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

According to the final communique, the Group of 20 leaders also agreed to end public financing for coal-fired power generation abroad, but set no target for phasing out coal domestically — a clear nod to coal-dependent countries including China and India.

The Group of 20 countries represent more than three-quarters of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and G-20 host Italy and Glasgow-host Britain had been looking for more ambitious targets coming out of Rome. Without them, momentum for Glasgow could be lost.

According to the communique, the G-20 reaffirmed past commitments by rich countries to mobilise $100 billion annually to help poorer countries cope with climate change, and committed to scaling up financing for helping them adapt.

A key sticking point remained the deadline to reach carbon neutrality or “net zero” emissions, meaning a balance between greenhouse gases added to and removed from the atmosphere. The US and European Union have set 2050 as their deadline for net zero emissions, while China, Russia and Saudi Arabia are aiming for 2060.

The future of coal, a key source of greenhouse gas emissions, has been one of the hardest things for the G-20 to agree on. At the Rome summit, leaders agreed to “put an end to the provision of international public finance for new unabated coal power generation abroad by the end of 2021.”

Aside from climate issues, the leaders signed off on a landmark agreement for countries to enact a global minimum corporate tax of 15 per cent. The global minimum is aimed at deterring multinational companies from dodging tax by shifting profits to countries with ultra-low rates, but where the companies may do little actual business.

The leaders also said they would continue work on a French initiative for wealthier countries to rechannel $100 billion in financial support to needier countries in Africa in the form of special drawing rights, a foreign exchange tool used to help finance imports allocated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and also received by advanced countries.

The leaders said they were “working on actionable options” to do that and set the $100 billion figure as a “total global ambition” short of an absolute commitment. Some $45 billion has already been reallocated by individual countries on a voluntary basis.

The commitment reflects concern that the post-pandemic recovery is diverging, with wealthy countries rebounding faster due to extensive vaccination and stimulus spending, the AP news reported.