Support for an ambitious global warming deal by world leaders during a G20 meeting in Bali on Wednesday has given a lift to climate negotiations at the COP27 summit running in parallel in Egypt.
The boost came as talks among nearly the 200 nations at the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh risked stalling out over core issues like climate finance and limiting planetary warming at 1.5C, the point at which scientists fear far more severe climate change impacts will be unleashed.
A G20 declaration on Wednesday said “we will play our part fully in implementing” last year’s Glasgow Climate Pact, under which countries pledged to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5C above pre-industrial times.
“We resolve to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. This will require meaningful and effective actions and commitment by all countries,” the leaders said in a declaration at the end of their Bali summit.
Delegates in Egypt have been watching the G20 summit closely for signs rich nations are willing to make new commitments on climate change, even as their focus is distracted by other crises like Russia’s war on Ukraine and rampant inflation.
“We welcome this declaration, but it means all G20 countries must raise the ambition of their 2030 targets by this year or next, to ensure the climate doesn’t overshoot the 1.5 degree temperature target,” said Ghana delegate Henry Kokofu, who also represents the Climate Vulnerable Forum.
“The COP27 outcome must reflect a far stronger sense of urgency and obligation from the major emitters,” he said. “As things stand, the Glasgow Climate Pact is broken, but the G20 have the opportunity to fix it.”
U.S. Special Climate Envoy John Kerry had said on Saturday that a few countries in Egypt were resisting mention of the 1.5 degrees goal in the official text of the COP27 summit, and President Joe Biden had urged countries last week not to let near-term crises trigger a backslide in ambition.
Scientists say keeping average global temperature rise to 1.5C is needed to avert the worst effects of climate change.
An EU official said the G20 wording could increase the chances that negotiators in Egypt would also lock in the 1.5C target. “But there are nearly 200 countries, and it’s only safe when 1.5 is anchored in the cover decision,” the official said, referring to what will form the core political deal from the summit.
Delegates at COP27 were also looking forward to a speech by Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has buoyed hopes for a strong deal at the summit by vowing to reengage the huge rainforest nation with international efforts to fight climate change.
Lula won the presidential election last month against right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, who presided over mounting destruction of the Amazon rainforest and refused to hold the 2019 climate summit originally planned for Brazil.
This week’s talks in Bali also led to an agreement between the world’s top two biggest greenhouse gas emitters, the United States and China, to resume climate cooperation after a hiatus triggered by diplomatic tensions over Taiwan.
And a coalition of countries also announced at G20 it would mobilise $20 billion of public and private finance to help Indonesia shut coal power plants, following a similar deal last year for South Africa.
The G20 declaration recognised the need to phase down use of unabated coal and phase out “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies. It also said industrialised countries should make progress on climate finance – essentially restating goals made at previous summit.
India, the world’s second-biggest buyer of coal, has said during the COP27 talks that it wants countries to agree to phase down all fossil fuels, rather than the narrower deal to phase down just coal that was agreed at COP26 last year.
That proposal would benefit India, which has relatively small oil and gas reserves, by reducing the focus on its coal use, but has also drawn support from the European Union, which views the idea as a step up in ambition.
But it is a sore point for African and Middle Eastern countries keen to develop their oil and natural gas resources. Saudi Arabia has said it wants to avoid a deal that would “demonize” oil and gas.
Avinash Persaud, special envoy on climate finance to Prime Minister Mia Motley of Barbados, meanwhile, told Reuters the G20 declaration missed the mark on finance.
“Unfunded ambition gets us nowhere fast,” Persaud said, adding he wanted G20 countries to unlock more lending from multilateral development banks they control to help climate-vulnerable countries.
“They have missed the opportunity to deliver on that today, and we are running out of time.”