G20 Summit

This weekend was highly consequential for the fight against climate change, as the leaders of the 20 major economies of the world gathered in Rome, Italy, to discuss the goal of limiting global warming. The G20 group—made up of 19 countries and the European Union—is a good feeler of what to expect for the highly anticipated Glasgow Climate Conference, which will host what are essentially make-or-break UN climate talks, to be held from 31 October to 12 November.

In terms of how impactful the G20 summit was, the reviews are mixed and mostly tinged with disappointment. There was one big development that could be a good starter for the Glasgow Conference—the G20 leaders committed to the key goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and pledged action on the use of coal. This is definitely an improvement from the Paris Agreement, which was disregarded by the Trump administration, which set the goal to limit global warming to below 2 degrees. The fact that the countries have collectively come to an agreement on 1.5 degrees is an achievement, considering that even this was controversial a few years back, and many believed that limiting global warming to that extent was an impossibility.

However, it would be far-fetched to say that any major breakthrough occurred this weekend. The summit fell short of honouring the activist demand of pledging to aim for a target of zero emissions. If this promise is not secured, then the earlier promise of “1.5 degrees” becomes just lip-service, since 1.5 degrees cannot be achieved until the G20 countries, which are responsible for 80% of the world’s emissions, do not pledge to slash global emissions nearly in half by 2030 and to “net-zero” by 2050.

The G20 summit thus was disappointing in its contradictions. However, the collective spirit it manifested is appreciated and it is hoped that the upcoming Glasgow Conference will lead to more action, along with the words.

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