Browne: Failure of G20 to agree strong climate change response leaves much to do at Cop26

IRISH TIMES: Gaston Browne, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, blamed the influence of powerful private-sector interests for the G20’s failure to come up with better plans to combat climate change.

The G20, a club of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful countries, who together are responsible for 80 per cent of global emissions, has the political and financial clout to set a course to avoiding catastrophic climate change impacts.Their gathering in Rome just before Cop26 was an opportunity to provide early momentum for the UN climate summit. The outcome has undoubtedly come up short, but analysts insist this should not be interpreted as an indication that Cop26 will not deliver what is urgently required to tackle the crisis.

The G20 made significant progress, according to some observes, with a pledge to reach net-zero emissions by or around the middle of the century and take action this decade to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees. However, poorer countries say the group’s promises were not accompanied by clear plans.

G20 leaders also recognised that reducing methane is one of the quickest, most feasible and most cost effective means to limit climate impacts, but they could not agree on deal to phase out coal use. This all leaves Cop26 the uphill task of setting out what strengthened ambition should look like in this decade.

UN secretary general António Guterres said the G20 outcome fell far short of delivering real leadership on the crisis, and that he left Rome “with my hopes unfulfilled… but not buried”.

British prime minister and Cop26 host Boris Johnson struck a more pessimistic tone, saying “words and promises are starting to sound, frankly, hollow”.

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