01 Nov 2021, 12:48
Edgar Meza

Merkel calls G20 climate outcome “good signal” for COP26, NGOs cry foul

Clean Energy Wire

The G20 summit in Rome has achieved good results on climate policy, said German chancellor Angela Merkel. “That is a good signal for Glasgow," she said. Ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), which was kicked off in Glasgow, Scotland a the same time, Merkel joined world leaders at the two-day G20 summit in Rome, where climate protection was high on the agenda. Stressing that climate change and the loss of biodiversity posed the “most pressing problem,” Merkel said the G20 countries were responsible for around 75 percent of global CO2 emissions and action had to be taken “much more decisively than has been the case until now”.

The G20 jointly committed to the Paris Climate Agreement for the first time since 2016 – the U.S. under president Donald Trump had pulled out of the deal – and all G20 countries have now ratified it. "That is very, very good news," said Merkel. All G20 countries have thus committed themselves to the goal of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably to 1.5 degrees, compared to pre-industrial levels. While the G20 set no target for phasing out coal domestically, Merkel welcomed the commitment to end public financing for coal-fired generation abroad and praised China in particular for taking a "significant step" in that direction. As a result, "the transformation to other energy sources will now take place significantly faster", she said.

Also attending the summit was German vice chancellor and finance minister Olaf Scholz, who is very likely to succeed Merkel as Germany’s next leader. While noting that countries will be dealing with climate change for years to come, Scholz said the world was “moving in the right direction. We are still a long way from reaching our goal. We now have to move faster. What has to happen now is more the concrete implementation rather than the formulation of goals.” While not all countries share the same time frame for achieving climate neutrality, focussing on the middle of the century is nevertheless “a step forward that could not have been expected a few years ago”, Scholz said.

Despite Merkel and Scholz’s positive assessments, climate protection proponents had hoped for more ambitious results. Environmental organisation Germanwatch described the meeting as “encouraging” but also criticised that it did not go far enough in reducing support for fossil fuels. “The G20 remains disappointing when it comes to reducing fossil fuel subsidies,” said Germanwatch policy director Christoph Bals. “We would have hoped for further details.” COP26 now has to mark the start of climate goal implementation, Bals added. “It is now important that Glasgow succeeds in converting the general statements of the major emitters into concrete steps for the decade of implementation that has begun through submitted climate targets, financial commitments and technical negotiations."

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