G20: Energy ministers unable to agree on a timetable for cutting fossil fuels

Energy ministers of G20 countries meeting in India on Saturday failed to agree on a timetable to gradually reduce the use of fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal).

Their final declaration, published at the end of the meeting in Goa, does not even mention coal, which is one of the major contributors to global warming.

But coal is one of the main sources of energy for many developing economies, including India, the world’s most populous country, and China, the world’s second largest economy.

This failure to agree comes despite G7 leaders in Hiroshima in May demonstrating a will to “accelerate” their “exit” from fossil fuels, and while global temperatures are reaching record levels, causing heat waves, floods and fires.

To clarify the impasse, India, which holds the G20 presidency, pointed out that some members wanted “+ unabated + reduction in fossil fuels”, meaning that “according to different national circumstances” not to be supported by carbon capture or storage devices.

While “others have differing opinions on whether carbon capture and storage technologies meet these needs”.

Alden Meyer, an analyst with the E3G think tank, bemoaned the failure of the talks.

– “The need to rally” –

“With temperatures reaching record levels every day around the world and the effects of climate change spiraling out of control, the world needs the G20 energy ministers to unite together,” he said in a statement.

A coalition of eighteen countries, including France and Germany, led by the Marshall Islands last Friday called for an “immediate exit from fossil fuels” and a “peak in greenhouse gases by 2025”, believing that “humanity cannot wait”.

The coalition calls for cutting global emissions by 43% by 2030 compared to 2019, in order to respect the 1.5°C limit, according to calculations by UN climate experts.

But many developing countries believe that richer countries, the biggest polluters, should do more of the financing for the energy transition.

India in particular has set a target of net zero emissions by 2070, which is 20 years later than many other countries.

A report preparing for India’s presidency at the G20 calculated the cost of the energy transition at $4 trillion per year and underlined the importance of technology transfer and low-cost financing for developing countries, a recurring request from New Delhi.

Some large oil producers are also reluctant to phase out fossil fuels too quickly.

Ed King of the climate communications network GSCC on Saturday blamed Russia and Saudi Arabia in particular for the lack of progress in the talks.

He lamented on Twitter that these countries have “blocked efforts to reach an agreement to triple clean energy aimed at reducing fossil fuels”.

Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of the United Arab Emirates oil company Adnoc, which will chair the COP28 talks, said he expected fossil fuels to continue to play a role, albeit a small one, with the controversial help of carbon capture or storage devices.

Although he recognized that their lack was “inevitable” and “necessary”, realism prohibited working overnight without them.

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