Major economies accused of ‘backsliding’ on emissions as G20 climate meet ends in failure

Some of the world’s major economies are “backsliding” on their emissions commitments, the UK’s climate delegate Alok Sharma said on Thursday, a day after a meeting of the Group of 20 (G20) nations failed to adopt a joint communiqué at climate talks.

Objections to language on climate targets and the war in Ukraine prevented a joint communiqué from being issued at the G20 ministerial meeting in Bali on Wednesday, diplomatic sources said.

Sharma, president of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26) and head of the British delegation in Bali, told Reuters the response from the G20 that accounts for 80% of global emissions was “incredibly worrying.”

“It is certainly the case that what we did see was a number of countries backsliding on the commitments that they made in Paris and in Glasgow,” he said in an interview, without singling out any nations.

“Unless the G20 are willing to act on the commitments they have made in Glasgow I am afraid the prospect of keeping 1.5 degrees within reach is going to slip away very, very fast.”

G20 climate ministers met on the Indonesian resort island for the talks as extreme weather events — fires, floods and heat waves — pummel several parts of the world, including unprecedented flooding in Pakistan that has killed more than 1,100 people.

Science shows that such extreme weather events are attributable to human-caused climate change and will only increase in severity and frequency as the globe edges closer to the warming threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

In comments ahead of November’s COP27 in Egypt, Sharma said the position some countries had taken in Bali was unacceptable.

“The big emitters absolutely need to look these climate vulnerable countries in the eye and say they are doing absolutely everything they can to deliver on the commitments they have made,” he said.

Indonesia’s Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar had started the meeting by urging countries to cut emissions and prevent the planet from being pushed to a point “where no future will be sustainable.”

Siti had earlier said she hoped a joint communiqué would be signed by the end of the day Wednesday, but made no mention of it in her closing press conference.


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