In Brief

Are developed countries serious about climate change?

Report reveals G20 is failing to meet Paris emissions targets, with 82% of energy still coming from fossil fuels

All but one of the world’s leading 20 economies have failed to meet their commitments to reduce climate change, with 82% of all energy in these countries still coming from fossil fuels.

In an analysis of the G20’s current emissions-cutting targets for 2030, global partnership Climate Transparency has warned that at current rates the world is heading for an overall 3.2°C rise above pre-industrial levels in average global temperatures.

Among the G20 nations, 15 reported a rise in emissions last year, while only India has set targets that would keep average temperature rises below 2°C, the upper limit recommended by the Paris Agreement, if adopted globally.

It follows similar warnings made last month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which found that the earth will reach the crucial 1.5°C threshold as early as 2030.

Britain and France were praised for their commitments to phase out fossil-fuel vehicles, but targets set by the worst offenders, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, would lead to a rise of more than 4°C if they were adopted worldwide, the report found.

The Guardian has described the report as “the most comprehensive stock-take to date of progress” towards the goals of the Paris climate agreement.

It shows the G20 nations spent £114bn on subsidies in 2016, although they pledged to phase them out more than ten years ago, while fossil fuels still account for 82% of energy, something the paper says “shows politicians are paying more heed to the fossil fuel industry than to advice from scientists”.

According to the World Resources Institute, G20 countries account for around 80% of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions. CNN also reports that “several experts involved with the report criticised the G20’s continued reliance on fossil fuels”.

Charlene Watson, of the Overseas Development Institute, says “It's in the G20’s own economic interests to shift from brown to green energy, but we're still seeing major investment into the fossil fuel industry, along with huge subsidies.”

Jan Burck, senior adviser at equality NGO Germanwatch, and one of the report’s authors, said: “There is a huge fight by the fossil fuel industry against cheap renewables. The old economy is well organised and they have put huge lobbying pressure on governments to spend tax money to subsidise the old world.”

These political pressures are likely to intensify as governments are called upon to extend emissions cuts to the transport and agriculture sectors, meaning the goal of cutting G20 emissions by half by 2030 to keep warming below 1.5°C remains a long way off.

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