WASHINGTON (October 31, 2021)—The G20 Summit in Rome concluded today as the COP26 climate talks kicked off in Glasgow. The final communique includes several strong signals calling for bold climate action. G20 leaders noted the importance of strengthening national climate action this decade and reach net-zero emissions by or around mid-century and for the first time committed to halt international financing for building unabated coal-fired power plants abroad.

Following is a statement from Helen Mountford, Vice President, Climate and Economics, World Resources Institute:

“G20 leaders made some progress heading into the COP26 summit in Glasgow, calling for accelerated climate action this decade, phasing out international coal financing, and recognizing the importance of reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century. 

“It is noteworthy that G20 leaders committed to revisit and further enhance their 2030 emission reduction targets where necessary. This must now pave the way for negotiators at COP26 to agree that major emitters will come back in the next couple of years to further strengthen their 2030 targets to align with avoiding the 1.5°C temperature threshold.

“While the latest national climate plans have shifted us to a much better trajectory than the one before the Paris Agreement was struck, they do not achieve the deep emission reductions necessary to avoid the most dangerous levels of warming.

“For the first time, G20 leaders collectively recognized the importance of reaching net-zero emissions by or around mid-century. It is impressive that 90% of G20 countries have now indicated some intention to reach net-zero, which would have been unfathomable just a few years ago. To keep the 1.5°C goal within reach, countries need to set 2030 climate targets that chart a realistic pathway to deliver these net-zero commitments. Currently, a number of G20 countries are not on a credible trajectory to reach their net-zero goals, including Australia, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Turkey. 

“G20 countries deserve credit for sending an unequivocal message that they will stop financing unabated coal power abroad, yet they failed to make the obvious leap to stop building coal-fired plants at home as well. At COP26, countries can continue to sound the death knell for the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel. Shifting investments to clean energy is just common sense given it is cheaper almost everywhere, creates more local jobs and does not contribute to air pollution, which kills over 4 million people every year according to the World Health Organization. 

“The G20 also recognized the importance of taking ambitious action to rein in methane emissions. Addressing this potent greenhouse gas is essential to keep the Paris Agreement’s goals within reach and will also curb air pollution, improve food security and offer other public health benefits. The Global Methane Pledge, which over 30 countries have already endorsed ahead of COP26, can be instrumental in driving global action to curbing these potent pollutants. 

“G20 countries also reaffirmed the $100 billion annual finance pledge, which developed countries failed to meet on time. This acknowledgement is welcome, but immediate action is needed to reassure developing countries that any shortfalls will be made up and that funding for adaptation will be increased.

“In many ways, success at the Glasgow climate talks hinges on rebuilding trust: trust that the promised financial support will be delivered to developing countries, trust that major emitters will make bold emission cuts and trust that new corporate commitments are transformative rather than PR stunts. The world will be watching to hold their leaders to account.”