A positive response to calls to tackle climate change might sound hopeful, but what was achieved at the recent G20 Summit in Argentina was truly disappointing.
From using automobiles less, to increase the efficiency of transportation, to encouraging farmers to grow greener crops, could at least give a faint possibility of dealing with climate change head on.
Climate change was a major topic at the G20 Summit. It was estimated that greenhouse gas emissions came up at 17 percent of G20’s total economic output. Much attention was paid to calling for more climate-friendly regulations and actions. Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri emphasized the importance of green energy, a focus also on energy savings, and warning that climate change was a global threat, and an increase in emissions.
However, the results of such an important mission were less than encouraging.
The countries represented at the G20 mainly agreed to take action. However, they often failed to show any real leadership at all.
A CMA study found that the countries in the G20 in 2017 had less carbon dioxide emitted than in 2007. One significant outcome of that was that India, the world’s third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, dropped from being the second-largest emitter to becoming the sixth. This is evidence that the rapid increase in emissions and costs has started to slow down and the damage being done is starting to be reversed.
Many important steps have been taken in the last decade to put the issue of climate change on the world’s map.
At the COP in Paris in 2015, the international community accepted the need to reduce emissions in order to keep temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels. This was a finalization of a landmark agreement by over 190 countries last year.
But if global emissions are going to come down much more substantially in the next few years, the commitments made are far too weak. The Paris Agreement was not even a global treaty in the sense of international agreements. It was only a voluntary agreement between countries and to be reviewed every five years.
Those attending the G20 Summit were the people who together comprise 94 percent of global emissions. While we applauded the governments at the summit for taking action, we would have liked them to prove that their actions made a significant difference in reducing emissions and making a world better than our present.
A solid global agreement is vital if we are to limit the temperature increase to well below 2 degrees C and to return the world to a low-carbon global economy by the middle of the century.
What was not done, and what needs to be done urgently, is strong international leadership. The President Donald Trump of the United States did not show leadership at the summit. On the contrary, he announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
What is worse, his position makes U.S. contributions to the IPCC more essential than ever. The U.S. contribution makes up 29 percent of the $10 billion a year the world needs to invest in renewable energy.
The President of Germany, Mrs. Angela Merkel, delivered a powerful speech that caused enough uproar to send the U.S. President to dinner. She admitted the trade pact with the U.S. under the Trump administration was a disadvantage. However, the heart of her speech focused on climate change, with no mention of trade.
Given that the trade agreement between the U.S. and the EU is ending next year, no one else is going to do that.
Europe and the U.S. are closer in their views about climate change than China and the rest of the countries who attended the G20. We should demand that Washington and Brussels join us in taking real action to reduce emissions.
We need to show the leadership we are used to. Countries like Russia and India remain far off from the action that we want. The successes achieved in the last few years can only be undone if we can’t reduce emissions.
G20 actions can only prevent devastation, if the leaders are willing to be held to account when they fail. Climate change needs to be tackled urgently.