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Powering Net Zero Commitments

Carbon Emissions From G20 Countries Increased Sharply In 2021

A new study shows that carbon emissions across the world are rebounding strongly with the world’s 20 richest nations responsible for the rise.

The Climate Transparency Report states that CO2 levels are to increase by 4% across the G20 group. This is after a 6% drop due to the pandemic in 2020. Argentina, India and China are set to exceed their 2019 emissions levels.

The authors of the report state that the continued use of fossil fuels has undermined efforts to rein in temperatures.

Negotiators face a massive task with just 2 weeks till the critical COP26 climate conference in Glasgow opens.

The world is currently 1.1 C warmer than pre-industrial times, which makes future temperature increases extremely challenging. If the climate conference at Glasgow is to succeed, the nations with the most carbon emissions will have to enact ambitious policies. Evidence from the new report states that this isn’t happening as quickly as it should.

The G20 group representing 75% of the world’s emissions saw a drastic fall in its emissions as a result of COVID-19 associated economic lockdowns. However, the year’s rebound is being powered by fossil fuels, particularly coal.

The report, compiled by 16 environmental campaign groups and research organisations states that coal use is said to rise by 5% in 2021 across the G20. China is responsible for about 60% of the rise, with India and the US also seeing increasing use of coal.

Coal use in China has surged, with the country experiencing increased demand for energy as the global economy has recovered.

Coal prices are up nearly 200% from a year ago. This in turn has seen power cuts as it became uneconomical for coal-fired electricity plants to generate electricity in recent months. With the Chinese government announcing a change in policy this week to allow these power plants to charge market rates for their energy, the expectation is that this will spur even more coal use this year.

The Climate Transparency Report also finds that gas use is up by 12% across the G20 in the 2015-20 period.

While political leaders have made promises to ensure the global Covid recovery is a green one, financial commitments made by these wealthy nations do not underscore this. While $1.8 trillion has been earmarked for recovery spending, only $300 billion will fund green projects.

Nevertheless, the report also highlights some positive developments, which include the growth of wind and solar energy in wealthier nations. Record amounts of new capacity have been installed across the G20. Renewables supply about 12% of power, up from 10% in 2020.

On the political front, there has been important progress within the group, as most of the nations understand that net-zero targets are required around the middle of the century. The members have now agreed to put new 2030 carbon plans on the negotiating table before the conference at Glasgow.

However, India, China, Saudi Arabia and Australia have not yet done so.

“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,” stated Kim Coetzee from Climate Analytics, who coordinated the overall analysis.

As initially reported by BBC

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