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G20 ministers fail to agree on climate goals in communique

Published: Updated:

Energy and environment ministers from the Group of 20 rich nations have failed to agree on the wording of a key climate change commitment in their final communique, Italy’s Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani said on Friday.

The G20 meeting was seen as a decisive step ahead of United Nations climate talks, known as COP 26, which takes place in 100 days’ time in Glasgow in November.

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The failure to agree to common language ahead of that gathering will be seen as setback to hopes of securing a meaningful accord in Scotland.

Cingolani told reporters that ministers meeting in southern Italy could not agree on two disputed issues and that these would now have to be discussed when G20 heads of state and government hold a summit in Rome in October.

He said negotiations with China, Russia and India had proved especially difficult.

Cingolani said one of the sticking points was phasing out coal power, which most countries wanted to achieve by 2025 but some said would be impossible for them.

The other problem concerned the wording surrounding a 1.5-2 degree Celsius limit on global temperature increases that was set by the Paris Agreement.

Average global temperatures have already risen by more than 1 degree compared to the pre-industrial baseline used by scientists and are on track to exceed the 1.5-2 degree ceiling.

Cingolani said the final communique, which had been due to be published on Friday, would probably not now be released until Saturday.

Ahead of COP 26, environmental activists had hoped that the G20 gathering would lead to a strengthening of climate targets, new commitments on climate financing, and an increase in countries committing to net zero emissions by 2050.

Cingolani said the G20 had made no new financial commitments, but added that Italy itself would increase its own climate financing for underdeveloped countries.

The urgency of climate action has been brought home this month by deadly floods in Europe, fires in the US and sweltering temperatures in Siberia, but countries remain at odds on how to pay for costly policies to reduce global warming.

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