G20 Summit Agrees to Triple Renewable Energy, Falls Short on Fossil Fuel Goals

flags of the G20 countries flying in the sky

(Credit: G20)

by | Sep 12, 2023

flags of the G20 countries flying in the sky

(Credit: G20)

At the recent G20 summit, world leaders decided to set the goal of tripling renewable energy production, but they lacked agreement on fossil fuel reduction actions. The 20 countries involved are accountable for 80% of global emissions, making collective efforts towards decarbonization amongst members crucial to worldwide climate change mitigation.

Despite a meeting earlier this year that revealed many nations’ reluctance to a more rapid clean energy transition, leaders decided to “pursue and encourage efforts to triple renewable energy capacity globally” by 2030, as recommended by the International Energy Agency. In order to meet this goal, at least $4 trillion will need to be mobilized annually.

Language surrounding fossil fuels in the agreement is notably weak. Oil and gas are not mentioned directly at all in the write-up, and phasing down coal is mentioned once without a clearly stated goal or figure for reductions. Further, although the G7 nations have been pushing for an earlier commitment to reaching net-zero emissions, the goal remained by 2050.

The agreement cited a need to scale up carbon capture and removal technologies along with renewables, although UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has reportedly warned against this and pushed instead for radical decarbonization and phasing out of fossil fuels altogether.

Emphasis on a Just Energy Transition, Nature-Based Reporting, Circular Economy

Although the agreement lacked clear statements about the phase-out of fossil fuels, a just energy transition was emphasized throughout. A just transition, according to the agreement, should allow for the improvement of jobs and livelihoods as a result of clean energy development.

“We affirm that no country should have to choose between fighting poverty and fighting for our planet,” said the agreement. “We will pursue development models that implement sustainable, inclusive and just transitions globally while leaving no one behind.”

Specifics on how to achieve this transition, such as financial support to low and middle-income countries (LMICs), are mentioned but lack concrete measures or rules for achieving this in practice.

Also mentioned in the agreement, and in line with recent trends in sustainable business practices, is the need to improve and further emphasize nature-related data in sustainable financing, work to end plastic pollution, and build climate-resilient infrastructure. Developing a worldwide circular economy is cited as key to making significant global waste reduction by 2030 as well.

This December, the COP28 UN Climate Summit will meet and further discuss worldwide efforts towards meeting goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.

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