US President Joe Biden boards Air Force One after attending the G20 summit in Rome © Evan Vucci / AP

G20 leaders pledged to stop funding overseas coal-fired power plants before the global agenda shifts to Glasgow and also highlighted the divisions that will be visible over the next two weeks.

Was the result of the G20 summit a victory for the climate? It depends on who you ask. Late in the day on Sunday, the leaders were busy giving their own interpretation of the press release (which you can read here).

Many praised the outcome, including, as might be expected, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, US President Joe Biden and UK COP26 President Alok Sharma. But others said he had not done enough, including Canada’s Justin Trudeau and UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who said his hopes for the G20 had remained “unfulfilled”.

The keys to the climate

Climate finance: The UK and Italy have each stepped up their commitments to fund the switch to green energy for developing countries that have not benefited from the fossil fuel boom. Mario Draghi said he would triple Italy’s contribution to $ 1.4 billion per year and Boris Johnson said he would increase the UK’s contribution from £ 11.6 billion to £ 12.6 billion of books. This brings the total closer to the annual target of $ 100 billion set in Copenhagen over a decade ago.

Coal: The discussions on coal went hand in hand in Rome. The Italian Presidency has succeeded in securing an agreement to end the international financing of coal-fired power stations, which does not weaken. But nothing was agreed on on phasing out domestic coal despite long tortured negotiations on the issue, or on setting a date for the phasing out of “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.”

Carbon pricing: This was first mentioned in the text of the final communiqué. While Draghi said it was a breakthrough, the term is only mentioned as a set of tools: “Such a policy mix should include. . . a wide range of fiscal, market and regulatory mechanisms to support clean energy transitions, including, where appropriate, the use of carbon pricing mechanisms and incentives.

Methane: The powerful warming gas was also worth mentioning for the first time, albeit in passing. A reduction in methane emissions, from both natural gas leaks and agricultural sources, could have the greatest short-term impact in limiting global warming.

1.5C: The final press release refers to the ideal Parisian target of 1.5 ° C warming since pre-industrial times, noting that the effects of climate change are less at 1.5 ° C than at 2 ° C. (The world has already warmed by about 1.1 ° C.)

“Keeping 1.5 ° C within reach will require meaningful and effective actions and commitment on the part of all countries, taking into account the different approaches,” the document said. This sentence is hailed as a victory by some, but also leaves a lot of room for interpretation.


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