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G-20 Leaders Pledge to End Financing for Overseas Coal Plants

G-20 leaders meeting in Rome have agreed to work to reach carbon neutrality “by around mid-century” and pledged to end financing for coal plants abroad by the end of this year; however, they failed to agree on phasing out coal domestically.

“While I welcome the #G20’s recommitment to global solutions, I leave Rome with my hopes unfulfilled — but at least they are not buried,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote on Twitter.

The leaders issued their final communique Sunday at the end of a two-day summit, ahead of talks at a broader U.N. climate change summit, COP26, this week in Glasgow, Scotland.

They also addressed efforts to reach the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, in line with a global commitment made in 2015 with the Paris Climate Accord to keep global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and preferably to 1.5 degrees.

“We recognize that the impacts of climate change at 1.5°C are much lower than at 2°C. Keeping 1.5°C within reach will require meaningful and effective actions and commitment by all countries,” the communique said.

U.S. President Joe Biden, speaking at a press conference in Rome on Sunday, said while people were disappointed that Russia and China leaders didn’t “show up” with commitments about climate change, the leaders who did attend made “significant progress.”

“I think you are going to see we have made significant progress and more has to be done,” he said. “It’s going to require us to continue to focus on what China’s not doing, what Russia is not doing and what Saudi Arabia is not doing.”

The grouping of 19 countries and the European Union accounts for more than three-quarters of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

In October, two dozen countries joined a U.S.- and EU-led effort to slash methane emissions by 30% from 2020 levels by 2030.

Coal, though, is a bigger point of contention. G-20 members China and India have resisted attempts to produce a declaration on phasing out domestic coal consumption.

Climate financing, namely pledges from wealthy nations to provide $100 billion a year to support developing countries’ efforts to reduce emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change, is another key concern. Indonesia, a large greenhouse gas emitter that will take over the G-20 presidency in December, urged developed countries to fulfill their financing commitments both in Rome and in Glasgow.

Also on Sunday, the U.S. and EU announced an end to Trump-era tariffs on EU steel, resolving a dispute that saw the bloc impose retaliatory tariffs on American products including whiskey and power boats.

“Together the United States and the European Union are ushering in a new era of transatlantic cooperation that’s going to benefit all of our people both now, and I believe, in the years to come,” U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters on the sidelines of the G-20 summit.

Global supply chain

Biden held a meeting to address the global supply chain crisis with 14 other members of the group of 20 countries. The 20 members in the summit account for more than 80% of world GDP and 75% of global trade.

The U.S. urged other countries to help reduce supply chain problems and announced new measures to make supply chains more resilient in the United States. The main points of this new effort include streamlining U.S. stockpiling efforts, increasing funding for trade facilitation activities to cut red tape, and organizing a summit for next year with multiple stakeholders and foreign counterparts.

Notably absent at this meeting was China.

Referring to the global dependency on Chinese goods, Biden urged countries to diversify their supply chains, “so that we’re not dependent on any one single source that might cause a failure.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose country is considered to be the “world’s factory,” did not attend the summit in person. In his virtual speech to G-20 leaders, Xi proposed holding an international forum on resilient and stable industrial and supply chains.

Addressing global commerce disruptions has been a key focus for the Biden administration, which is concerned that these bottlenecks will hamper post-pandemic economic recovery. To address the U.S.’s supply chain issues, the administration recently announced a plan to extend operations around the clock, seven days a week, at Los Angeles and Long Beach, two California ports that account for 40% of sea freight entering the country.

“Whether you’re talking about medical equipment or supplies of consumer goods or other products, it’s a challenge for the global economy,” said Matthew Goodman, senior vice president for economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Some of the concrete measures to alleviate global supply chain pressure points may need to be longer term, such as shortening supply chains and rethinking dependencies, said Leslie Vinjamuri, director of the U.S. and the Americas program at Chatham House, a research institution in London.

“Those are not quick fixes,” she said. “But the G-20 is historically set up really to be dealing with short-term crises. So, I think that there will be considerable effort made to … come to terms with that.”

Source: Voice of America