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Climate Change: GHG emissions rebound strongly across G20 nations, world is far from 1.5 degree C warming limit despite net zero pledge

The Times of India logo The Times of India 14-10-2021 Vishwa Mohan
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NEW DELHI: Emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) are rebounding across the G20 countries this year after a short period of decline due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and the world is far from meeting the 1.5 degree C global warming limit despite ‘net zero’ commitments by 14 of them, said a report on annual stocktake and comparison of climate actions of these big and emerging economies.

The report, released by Climate Transparency on Thursday, also noted that GHG emission levels of four countries - Argentina, China, India and Indonesia – are projected to exceed their 2019 emission levels.

The Climate Transparency is a global partnership of 16 think tanks and NGOs, including TERI from India, that brings together experts from the majority of G20 countries.

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The report noted that energy-related CO2 emissions plunged by 6% across the G20 in 2020, but it’s now projected to increase by 4%.

“Rebounding emissions across the G20, the group responsible for 75%of global GHG emissions, shows that deep and fast cuts in emissions are now urgently needed to achieve net zero announcements,” said Gahee Han from the South Korean organisation Solutions for Our Climate, one of the lead authors of the report.

The report, however, also noted some positive developments, such as the growth of solar and wind power among G20 members, with new records of installed capacities in 2020. It said the share of renewables in energy supply is projected to grow from 10% in 2020 to 12% in 2021.

“And in the power sector (energy used to make electricity and heat), renewables increased by 20% between 2015 and 2020, and are projected to become nearly 30% of the G20’s power mix in 2021,” it said.

On the flip side, the report underlined that in spite of these positive changes, dependence on fossil fuels is not going down. “On the contrary, the consumption of coal is projected to rise by nearly 5% in 2021, while the consumption of gas has increased by 12% across the G20 from 2015-2020,” it said.

The report found that the growth in coal is mainly concentrated in China – the largest global producer and consumer of coal – followed by the US and India.

“India is the only developing country among the G20 countries with sufficient policies and actions to achieve its NDC goals by 2030. The country made significant progress in terms of its voluntary mitigation targets. It is aiming to deliver 450 GW of installed renewable capacity and has recently launched the National Hydrogen Mission to promote clean energy transition. However, there is a strong need of mobilizing international support (including climate finance) for resilient and inclusive growth in the country,” said Abhishek Kaushik from The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

The report, however, noted that apart from the UK, G20 members have neither short- nor long-term strategies in place for achieving 100% renewables in the power sector by 2050.

On ‘net-zero’ front, only 14 G20 members had committed to net zero targets covering almost 61% of global GHG emissions by August while 13 G20 members (including France, Germany and Italy under the EU’s nationally determined contribution) had officially submitted NDC updates, with six setting more ambitious 2030 targets, by September.

“Yet, even if fully implemented, current targets assessed by April 2021 would still lead to warming of 2.4°C by the end of the century,” said the report, referring to experts’ warning.

“G20 governments need to come to the table with more ambitious national emission reductions targets. The numbers in this report confirm we can’t move the dial without them – they know it, we know it – the ball is firmly in their court ahead of COP26,” said Kim Coetzee from Climate Analytics, who coordinated the overall analysis.

Reacting to the findings, Sanjay Vashist, director, CAN South Asia, said, “Asia can and should do better in rolling out renewables and converting the climate crisis into an opportunity for green and inclusive development. Announcements to reduce coal finance are a good first step. But they need to be followed by a plan to completely phase out coal, ensuring a just transition.”

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