G20 make commitments on climate neutrality, coal financing

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“Why do you believe 2050 is some magic figure?” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov asked at a news conference. “If it is an ambition of the European Union, it is the right of other countries also to have ambitions. … No one has proven to us or anybody else that 2050 is something everyone must subscribe to.”

The future of coal, a key source of greenhouse gas emissions, has been one of the hardest things for the G-20 to agree on.

At the Rome summit, leaders agreed to “put an end to the provision of international public finance for new unabated coal power generation abroad by the end of 2021.”

That refers to financial support for building coal plants abroad, something Western countries have been moving away from and major Asian economies are now doing the same: Chinese President Xi Jinping announced at the U.N. General Assembly last month that Beijing would stop funding such projects, and Japan and South Korea made similar commitments earlier in the year.

China has not set an end date for building coal plants at home, however. Coal is still China’s main source of power generation, and both China and India have resisted proposals for a G-20 declaration on phasing out domestic coal consumption.

The failure of the G-20 to set a target for phasing out domestic coal use was a disappointment to Britain. The spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Max Blain, said the G-20 communique “was never meant to be the main lever in order to secure commitments on climate change,” which would be hammered out at the Glasgow summit.

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