Credit: G20 Climate and Environment Media
Last week, all eyes were on Naples, Italy as the energy and environment ministers from the G20 convened to commit to new climate goals and present recommendations for tackling climate change and building a resilient, sustainable society. But the results were disappointing to many.
According to Italy’s Ecological Transition Minister, Roberto Cingolani, the group failed to agree on the wording of key climate change commitments and in the end, China and India chose not to sign the two contested points around phasing out coal power and adjusting the 1.5 degree Celsius limit on global temperature increases from the 2015 Paris Agreement.
“Some countries wanted to go faster than what was agreed in Paris and to aim to cap temperatures at 1.5 degrees within a decade, but others, with more carbon-based economies, said let’s just stick to what was agreed in Paris,” noted Cingolani.
Average global temperatures are already rising by more than 1 degree compared to the pre-industrial baseline. “Even at 1.2 degrees of warming, which is according to the latest science is about where we are now, we are seeing deadly heatwaves, floods, and extreme weather events in recent weeks,” adds Palladium’s Katie McCoy, Team Leader of Partnerships for Forests. “Business as usual is no longer an option and it doesn’t have to be.”
Despite the contention, the sentiment is echoed in the G20’s joint communique from the Climate and Environment Ministers, “Pursuing efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels will require meaningful and effective actions by all countries.”
But the failure to agree upon two critical points means that the pressure will be on at COP26, the United Nations Climate Change conference. Held in Glasgow this year, and less than 100 days away, G20 Ministers urged members to have strategies in place by COP26 that set out clear pathways to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removal by sinks.
The overarching goal to “hold the global average temperature increase to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit to 1.5°C, with the aim of keeping the above temperature limit within reach, reflecting the latest science and taking into account different approaches, including CCE, socio-economic, technological and market developments, and different national circumstances.”
Shifting Lives and Lifestyles
As Lucy Garrett, Palladium Manager on Nature-Based Solutions, adds, not only is action urgently needed, but also a mindset change, “From our perspective, the opportunities created through a transition towards an inclusive, green economy which puts climate mitigation, resilience and nature recovery at its heart are enormous. This transition will create new, green jobs, stimulate innovation and help us to reconfigure the way that we relate to nature.”
For the first time at the G20 level, the communique also acknowledged the link between energy production, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change, and the ministers underline the importance of clean energy transitions and more sustainable, resilient cities. More ‘liveable’ cities were pointed to as critical in achieving climate targets, “They need to be turned into better places to live, in harmony with nature, including through an appropriate use of Nature-based-Solutions.”
Nature-based solutions, which aim to protect or enhance nature in a way that helps tackle climate change and other sustainability challenges, while also benefitting biodiversity, improving human well-being, and providing economic benefits through monetary value and job creation, have recently been touted as one of the most critical aspects of tackling climate change. But ensuring nature-based solutions’ success depends on more than commitments from groups like the G20 and will also require creative financial vehicles to fund approaches and global partnerships across both the public and private sector.
“Acting with urgency and ambition is needed,” adds McCoy. “We need to work across all fronts and that includes investing and scaling up regenerative business models domestically, and in other countries that can both protect the planet and allow people to thrive.”
As the world turns its attention towards COP26, there are high expectations that G20 members will come together and align around solutions for building and transitioning towards more resilient and sustainable economies.
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