Climate ministers gathered in Chennai, India for the fourth and final G20 Environment and Climate Sustainability Ministerial Meeting failed to reach a consensus on some key issues, including phasing down fossil fuels and speeding up the energy transition.
The fourth and final meeting of G20 climate and environment ministers from the world’s largest economies – which took place last week in Chennai, India – ended on Friday without an agreement on key environmental challenges as the planet battles through one of the hottest summers in history.
41 Ministers from the Group of 20 countries – who together are responsible for about 80% of global planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions – failed to agree on four of 68 points of discussion, including phasing down fossil fuels, doubling the rate of energy efficiency while tripling renewable energy capacity, and implementing green border taxes.
Speaking at a press conference, India’s Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav said that despite a consensus on 95% of the agenda’s topics, some key issues remained unsolved. “The G-20 ministers stand united in their commitment to create a sustainable and resilient future,” he added.
Christophe Bechu, French ecological transition minister, said he was “very disappointed” at the meeting’s outcome. “We are not able to reach an agreement of increasing drastically renewable energy, we are not able to reach an agreement on phasing out or down fossil fuels, especially coal, and it’s just very odd to see what happens outside this hotel, this G20, in the real world and to see the difficulties to find just the diplomatic wording on these environmental issues,” he said.
Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Union Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, reaffirmed the bloc’s full commitment to becoming a climate-neutral, resource-efficient, circular, and nature-positive economy, in line with the European Green Deal, a set of policy initiatives with the overarching aim of making the EU climate neutral by mid-century.
“We need to act without delay on a global scale to reverse these alarming trends,” he said, citing this summer’s extreme weather events. “Therefore, it is our responsibility as G20 members to be ambitious and uphold the climate and environmental commitments agreed in previous G20 meetings and the Paris Climate Agreement, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and the BBNJ Agreement on the high seas.”
The ministers’ decisions will now be passed on to country leaders ahead of September’s summit in New Delhi, the last chance for G20 nations to issue a joint statement on climate ahead of the COP28 summit.