G20 leaders agree to improve greenhouse gas plans ahead of 2030

World leaders have pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Credit: PA

There has been a notable breakthrough on climate change at a meeting of the world's biggest economies - the G20 summit in Rome - with a statement in the communiqué which pledges they will take further action to formulate, implement, update and enhance commitments to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases “ahead” of 2030.

According to an official, this sets up the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow “to deliver a short term acceleration [in greenhouse gas emissions] through the negotiations”.

Several officials tell me that for them this is a much better G20 outcome than they expected even yesterday.

Which may tell you something about the poverty of ambition of world leaders when it comes to climate change.

And it gives a following wind to the idea I discussed yesterday that this COP may usher in a process for nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to reduce production of methane and CO2 being negotiated every two or three years rather than every five, as at present.

There is also relief from these officials that the whole of the G20 has endorsed a target for “net zero” - when the amount of greenhouse gases produced are the same as those absorbed from the atmosphere - no net emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere - from around the middle of the century, and that no G20 member will finance new coal power stations outside their own country.

World leaders at Rome’s Trevi fountain Credit: Gregorio Borgia/AP

Climate campaigners will see these promises as the unambiguous minimum needed.

But one official involved in the talks says last week “a good number of G20 members” were refusing to agree even these limited climate-protecting measures, including on international coal finance.

And another said: “this delivers a lot more than we had thought even 24 hours ago”.

The COP27 climate conference - what you need to know

What is COP27? When and where will it be?

Each year, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meets at what is called the Conference of the Parties (abbreviated as COP) to discuss the world's progress on climate change and how to tackle it.

COP27 is the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties summit which will be held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt from November 6-18.

Who is going?

Leaders of the 197 countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - a treaty that came into force in 1994 - are invited to the summit.

These are some of the world leaders that will be attending COP27:

  • UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is attending the conference, after initially saying he wouldn't as he was too busy focusing on the economy within his first weeks in office.

  • US President Joe Biden and his experienced climate envoy, John Kerry, will appear at the talks.

  • France President Emmanuel Macron will also be among the heads of state from around the world staying in Egypt.

King Charles III will not be attending COP27, despite being a staunch advocate for the environment. The decision was made jointly by Buckingham Palace and former prime minister Liz Truss.

Elsewhere, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will not attend the talks just as they decided to do for COP26.

Back to top

What is it hoping to achieve?

1. Ensure full implementation of the Paris Agreement and putting negotiations into concrete actions - included within this is the target of limiting global warming to well below 2C.

2. Cementing progress on the critical workstreams of mitigation, adaptation, finance and loss and damage, while stepping up finance notably to tackle the impacts of climate change.

3. Enhancing the delivery of the principles of transparency and accountability throughout the UN Climate Change process.

Back to top