G20 Economies Undermining Climate Efforts, Says Report


The world’s largest economies aren’t doing their bit to ensure global temperature rise is contained under 1.5 degree Celsius and the worst impacts of a climate disaster are averted, according to a report.

Emissions from the G20 nations already rebounded to record levels in 2021 after a brief reprieve during the Covid-19 pandemic, as per the annual Climate Transparency report.

Subsidies for fossil fuels, too, had risen to an all-time high even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered an energy crisis, it said.

“The Covid-19 pandemic could have been a point of transformation but, instead, we have returned to business-as-usual in the way we generate and use energy,” wrote Alvaro Umana and Peter Eigen, the co-chairs of Climate Transparency.

“Not enough renewable energy added; no speeding up the coal phase-out; no reduction in deforestation; and no acceleration of the exit from fossil-fuel-based transport.”

The G20 economies alone account for nearly 80% of the world’s GDP and three-fourths of global emissions.

It highlighted that these economies have failed to decouple emissions from growth to the extent that is needed.

The report comes a month before the group convenes for its 17th meeting in Bali, Indonesia, with heads of countries in attendance.

With Covid-19, as economic activity fell, energy-related CO2 emissions declined 4.9% in 2020. However, in the following year, emissions again rose by 5.9% while GDP increased 6.1%.

According to the report, the climate targets set by these economies are highly insufficient to keep the global temperature rise under 1.5 degree celsius—which is considered as a tipping point.

“The combined mitigation effect of all 2030 targets assessed is projected to lead to warming of 2.4°C, with current policies leading to a 2.7°C world by 2100,” the report said. “This underlines the urgent need for G20 members to strengthen current climate policies, intensify implementation, and submit more ambitious 2030 targets that align with midcentury net zero targets.”

To be sure, rich and developed economies have a higher responsibility to bear the brunt of the net-zero transition, as they are responsible for a large share of global emissions historically. For instance, the per capita emissions in North America is nearly 10 times that of India, data from the report highlighted.

These rich economies have also failed to fulfill their promise on international climate finance. Developing countries need funds to ensure they can transition to net-zero without sacrificing their developmental needs.

At COP15, it was agreed that the developed countries will mobilise $100 billion annually for developing countries by 2020. But this target has never been met and is widely criticised as being inadequate, it said.

Countries like the U.S., U.K., Italy, Canada and Australia are far from contributing their fair share of climate finance. Japan, Germany and France managed to pay more than their fair share in 2020. The U.S. has the worst track record on climate finance among the large historical polluters, contributing just 5% of its fair share.

“The developed nations of the world need to provide more and better climate finance urgently,” Bryce McCall, one of the authors of the report, said. “Critically important processes require it if the world is to manage a just transition successfully.”


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