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Several countries led by Saudi Arabia have blocked a move by G20 nations to reduce fossil fuel use, in the latest sign of global tensions over the future role of oil, gas and coal as the world grapples with climate change.
The G20 nations released a summary document on Saturday after several days of intense discussions hosted by India in Goa. She said some Member States had stressed the need to reduce fossil fuel use without capturing emissions “in line with different national circumstances”. But others “have different views on this issue.”
Instead, those countries want to focus on developing technology to contain greenhouse gas emissions.
Several people familiar with the negotiations said Saudi Arabia has been prominent in lobbying against phasing out fossil fuels, and several other countries have supported it.
In previous negotiations, Russia and China have consistently opposed the move, and they blocked an agreement at the United Nations climate summit in Egypt late last year.
The G7 countries have already agreed to accelerate the phase-out of fossil fuels.
Saturday’s meeting also failed to make progress in setting a global target for renewable energy development.
The predicament comes as countries around the world suffer severe weather conditions including sweltering heatwaves and floods.
The European Union has been the main supporter of efforts to move away from fossil fuels, which account for about three-quarters of all greenhouse gas emissions.
There were “sharp divisions on display” at the G-20 meeting “about the need for a just, rapid, and equitable transition away from fossil fuels,” said Alden Meyer, senior associate at consulting firm E3G.
“With temperatures being recorded daily across the globe and the effects of climate change spiraling out of control, the world needed to hear a clear call to action,” he said. Instead, what we got was a very weak tea.
Speaking at the end of the meeting, RK Singh, India’s energy minister, acknowledged that cutting fossil fuel production was a “sticking point” in the discussions. He said a larger portion of the G20 was in favor and it was a “fantastic conference”.
India has committed to reach net zero by 2070, while China has set a target of 2060.
A report prepared for India’s G20 presidency estimated the cost of the energy transition at about $4 trillion annually globally and stressed the need for financing for developing countries; This has become a major demand of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Failure to reach an agreement is likely to increase pressure on the UAE to intensify its discussions with ministers and leaders. It will host COP28 in December.
Earlier this month, Sultan Al Jaber, President-designate of COP28, laid out his vision for the climate summit, which places a major focus on climate finance for poor countries to help them deal with the consequences of global warming, as well as the rapid expansion of renewable energy.
It also set a “mid-century” goal to reduce the use of fossil fuels produced without capping their emissions. This goes far beyond the previous goals.
Global emissions must be cut by 43 percent by 2030 to stop temperatures rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the threshold at which scientists have warned of potentially irreversible changes to the planet and devastating consequences for citizens, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
But the world is on track for a warming of between 2.4°C and 2.6°C by 2100, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. Temperatures have already risen by at least 1.1 degrees Celsius.
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