G20 Summit Sets New Commitments to Reduce Environmental Footprint

Photo: Stomakhin Igor/GeoPhoto.ru

G20 Summit Sets New Commitments to Reduce Environmental Footprint

On 30-31 October 2021, the leaders of the G20 met in Rome for a summit ahead of the COP26 summit on climate change in Glasgow, which started on 31 October. Russian President Putin attended the summit online, with Foreign Minister Lavrov leading the Russian delegation.

The summit focused on climate and environmental issues. Below are the key points agreed upon by the G20 leaders and included in the Declaration issued following the event. The G20:

  • made a commitment to hold the global average temperature increase well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels;
  • pledged to mobilize international public and private finance to support green, inclusive and sustainable energy development and put an end to the provision of international public finance for new unabated coal power generation abroad by the end of 2021;
  • acknowledged a significant contribution of methane emissions to climate change and recognized, according to national circumstances, that its reduction could be one of the quickest, most feasible and most cost-effective ways to limit climate change and its impacts;
  • reaffirmed the commitment to the goal of mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion per year by 2020 and annually through 2025 to address the needs of developing countries in terms of energy transition and stressed the importance of meeting that goal fully as soon as possible;
  • agreed to remain vigilant of the evolution of energy markets, taking into account trends over the years, and promote an intensive dialogue so as to ensure that energy is available to everyone. This is especially important given the recent increase in energy prices in the global market;
  • committed to collectively plant 1 trillion trees, focusing on the most degraded ecosystems in the planet.

Numerous observers and environmental activists throughout the Western world see the summit’s outcomes as controversial. Many believe that the G20 could have set more ambitious goals and approved more far-reaching plans to tackle the global climate change challenge by making the Declaration more specific and setting stricter limits on the use of fossil fuels.

In turn, according to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, the summit was a success. “The main conclusion of this summit and the outcome of the work by both leaders and experts who agreed upon an extensive multi-page declaration is that the attempts to promote unilateral approaches have proved to be unpopular,” he said.

Overall, the summit’s decisions are in line with the sustainable development philosophy, which is of specific importance for the Arctic. It is the balanced combination of environmental policies and those aiming at fostering economic growth and improving quality of life that has the biggest potential of addressing the development needs in the High North.

Arctic Today is a column by PORA CEO Alexander Stotskiy analyzing major international, national and regional events and trends in the Arctic.
Alexander Stotskiy
1 November 2021
Arctic Today