Differentiated responsibility gets G20 nod before COP28

 The G0 leaders' declaration is silent on phasing down or phasing out fossil fuels; so it is not very clear how the continuation of fossil fuels and increase in renewable energy capacity will reconcile to achieve the Paris Agreement goals. (PTI)
The G0 leaders' declaration is silent on phasing down or phasing out fossil fuels; so it is not very clear how the continuation of fossil fuels and increase in renewable energy capacity will reconcile to achieve the Paris Agreement goals. (PTI)


G20 leaders commit to meeting Paris Agreement goals but lack details on how to achieve them. Common but differentiated responsibilities emphasized.

The New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration captures the intent of the G20 countries, responsible for 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions, to meet Paris Agreement goals but doesn’t explicitly lay down as to how they would do it.

One of the critical aspects of the declaration, however, is that it underlines the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) in mitigation efforts, and also of different national circumstances that can be useful to the countries of the Global South ahead of the UN Climate Meeting (COP28) in Dubai in November. There is deep trust deficit at climate negotiations particularly on historical responsibility, sharing of the mitigation burden and on the lack of adequate climate finance.

The strongest show of intent is in their commitment “to achieve global net zero GHG emissions/carbon neutrality by or around mid-century" and “pursue and encourage efforts to triple renewable energy capacity globally through existing targets and policies, as well as demonstrate similar ambition with respect to other zero and low-emission technologies, including abatement and removal technologies, in line with national circumstances by 2030." Both of these will help strengthen mitigation action at COP28. The declaration is silent on phasing down or phasing out fossil fuels; so it is not very clear how the continuation of fossil fuels and increase in renewable energy capacity will reconcile to achieve the Paris Agreement goals. Experts said the commitment to net zero is a strong show of intent while also recognizing that it is a “global" goal and that all countries are not expected to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. “I note that the declaration commits countries to achieve global net zero emissions by mid-century. Hopefully, the advanced economies will recognize that they need to achieve this milestone well before 2050," said Manjeev Singh Puri, former climate negotiator and ambassador. The Paris Agreement principle of “equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances," is well recognized in this, experts said.

The principle is also well reflected in the way the declaration has referred to the timeline for peaking of emissions. The G20 recognized that limiting global warming to 1.5° C requires rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global GHG emissions of 43% by 2030 relative to the 2019 levels. It also took note of Intergovernmental Panel on climate change’s finding that global GHG emissions are projected to peak between 2020 and at the latest before 2025 in global modelled pathways that limit warming to 1.5° C and 2° C.

“This does not imply peaking in all countries within this timeframe; time frames for peaking may be shaped by sustainable development, poverty eradication needs, equity, and in line with different national circumstances," the document states. “This is a very important statement that may not have been possible to insert in a climate negotiation document. It means a lot for the emerging economies and clearly it has been accepted by entire G20," said another former negotiator.

Tripling of renewable energy capacity, doubling energy efficiency and doubling hydrogen production to 180M tons per year by 2030 are highlights of Sultan-Al-Jaber, COP28 President Designate plan for the UN Climate Conference (COP28) which he had released in July. These will be critical in keeping global warming under 1.5°C over pre-industrial levels, he had said.

For the Global South, the new estimates of climate finance provided in the declaration will also be helpful in negotiating climate finance related matters at COP28.

The G20 states that its note the need for $5.8-5.9 trillion in the pre-2030 period required for developing countries, in particular for their needs to implement their nationally determined contributions, as well as the need of $4 trillion per year for clean energy technologies by 2030 to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

“The G20 has made important progress and I am specifically grateful for the commitment made today to triple renewables by 2030. These 20 countries account for 80% of global emissions, so this declaration sends a powerful signal for climate progress. I further welcome their alignment with the COP28 agenda concerning loss & damage, adaptation finance, closing out the $100 billion pledge made over a decade ago. I call on all countries to meet the challenge head on by committing to transformative climate action. We must meet the financial commitments of yesterday, whilst creating new ones for tomorrow," Sultan Al Jaber, COP28 President-Designate said in a statement.

The G20 has also put it down in the declaration that the long awaited USD 100 billion a year climate finance for developing countries will be finally met this year.

“We recall and reaffirm the commitment made in 2010 by the developed countries to the goal of mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion climate finance per year by 2020, and annually through 2025, to address the needs of the developing countries, in the context of meaningful mitigation action and transparency in implementation. Developed country contributors expect this goal to be met for the first time in 2023," the declaration states.

“The G20 declaration reflects a progressive yet balanced approach. On climate change and energy related issues, it has been able to get G20 support for all the IPCC indicated targets related to emissions reduction in the near term as well as long term while underscoring the finance related commitments made at the previous CoPs as well as those that are expected to be made at the next CoP," said RR Rashmi, Distinguished Fellow and Programme Director, Earth Science and Climate Change, The Energy and Resources Institute.

“It is significant that it has not made any further concessions on the coal or fossil fuel phase out issue where there was renewed pressure to deviate from the Glasgow language and improve upon Bali declaration. Para 38 reflects the success of India’s diplomacy as useful references to possible new global targets such as tripling of global renewable energy capacity and doubling of energy efficiency rate by 2030 have been made without such concessions and in the larger context of low emission transition and reference to both abatement and removal technologies. Some very good initiatives on clean technologies have been made in the interest of decarbonisation and climate change goals in the long run. A Green Hydrogen Innovation Centre with International Solar Alliance makes it global, yet within India’s reach. Global Biofuel Alliance gives a promise that the global standards for production, trade and use of biofuels where India’s options are limited (in the context of food security and 2G/3G technology constraints) will be fast tracked and harmonised," he added.

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