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According to officials, ministers were unable to agree on the timetables needed to reach zero global emissions by 2050 and keep global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius.
A group of 20 ministers is likely to end talks this week without an ambitious deal on climate change, another setback in the fight against rising temperatures ahead of key negotiations this year.
According to several officials and diplomats familiar with the discussions, energy and environment ministers are stuck on a number of issues at a G-20 meeting in Naples, Italy. They will kick a final decision to a meeting of their leaders in October.
The parties have not agreed on specific actions and set timetables needed to achieve zero global emissions by 2050 and keep global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to a draft communiqué and officials.
Despite major net-zero commitments from the world’s biggest polluters over the past 12 months — and a backdrop of dramatic weather — two people familiar with the talks said it would be extremely difficult to reach a substantive deal given the magnitude of the the differences. Realizing an ambitious plan is one of the key goals of the G-20 this year, ahead of the international climate talks known as COP26, to be held in Glasgow in November.
For the second time this month, G-20 ministers will disagree on net-zero greenhouse gas emissions or keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees — the bottom of the 2015 target. Paris was agreed. Instead, ministers only recognized “the impacts of climate change at 1.5°C are much lower than at 2°C.”
“Failing to agree on a G-20 climate communiqué would be a clear warning for COP26,” said Tom Evans, a researcher at think tank E3G in London. “Without leaders standing up where ministers have failed, it will be nearly impossible to see how COP26 can potentially deliver on its stated mission” to keep the 1.5 degree goal alive.
Ending the use of coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, is a sticking point as the G-20 chair Italy for the first time pushes for a phasing out to be included in the communiqué. But the draft paper shows that the group will not commit to ending coal use domestically, and only urges its members to follow the G-7 in ending foreign coal financing.
Two developed economies are resisting new coal commitments, and a handful of emerging economies are also resisting an effort to define clearer targets, the people added. The draft communiqué instead focuses on “deployment and diffusion of highly efficient technologies” to end the use of “undiminished coal”.
Both the G-7 and G-20 are seen as staging points along the path to the talks in Glasgow. The leaders of the G-20 will meet in Rome just before that meeting.
Last month’s summit of G-7 leaders in England highlighted the difficulty of agreeing climate agreement at the highest levels of power. Those countries agreed to stop financing coal abroad, but failed to stop its domestic use. Progress was blocked by last-minute nerves, political tensions and a shortage of funding.
Time is running out
With just 100 days left to the start of COP26, time is running out, John Kerry, the US Presidential Special Envoy on Climate, said in a speech this week in London. The talks come as countries around the world are feeling the effects of climate change, with countries from China to Germany experiencing intense flooding and heatwaves.
Kerry has said COP26 is the last chance to keep alive the chance of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. On Wednesday, he said he expects the G-20 meeting to at least agree to keep warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, and aim for 1.5 degrees Celsius – the language agreed in Paris in 2015. .
“I hope we will find a pretty easy agreement on the main goals because we broke that ground in Paris,” he said in an interview. “But we have to increase the ambition now.”
The US is lagging far behind in financial commitments to support energy transitions in developing countries, although Kerry has said more money will be provided.
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