As leaders gather for G-20 Summit in New Delhi, experts on Thursday said securing consensus on multilateral development bank (MDB) reforms and adopting rigorous language regarding the phasing down of unabated fossil fuels could enhance India’s leadership role.
The G-20 countries — responsible for 85% of the world’s GDP and 80% of the emissions — failed to reach consensus at the Energy and Climate Ministers’ meetings in July on the phasing down of unabated use of fossil fuels, tripling renewable energy capacity to 11 terawatts by 2030 and providing low-cost financing to developing countries — issues critical to limiting global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Despite the complexity of discussions and uncertainties surrounding energy transition and MDB reforms, there is optimism that the summit’s leaders can find a minimum consensus to demonstrate unity.
India hopes to get the governments to agree on a fossil phase down. However, if this doesn’t find place in the final text, there’s a risk of backsliding on the coal phase-down agreed upon at the Bali summit in the previous year.
At the G-20 energy ministerial, Saudi Arabia led opposition to fossil fuel phase-down efforts, while the G-7 nations had earlier committed to accelerating the phase-out of fossil fuels. Sultan Al Jaber, the President of the next UN climate talks, has stressed that the phase-down of fossil fuels is “inevitable” but contingent upon a substantial increase in renewable energy capacity worldwide. Experts, however, anticipate limited progress on fossil fuel discussions at the G-20.
R.R. Rashmi, Distinguished Fellow and Programme Director at The Energy and Resources Institute, said, “On the issue of fossil fuels, it is unlikely that there will be any language additional to what was agreed in Bali due to lack of global advancement and concrete action, despite India’s push, on technology, hydrogen, blue economy, and circular economy.”
T. Jayaraman, Senior Fellow (Climate Change) at the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, said that considering the vast diversity within the bloc, spanning from the lowest emitter, India, to the highest emitter, the U.S., any global targets set at the G-20 must account for this differentiation and acknowledge varied national circumstances explicitly in terms of actual numbers.
At 2.4 tCO2e (tonne carbon dioxide equivalent), India’s per capita greenhouse gas emission is far below the global average of 6.3 tCO2e.