How did the G20 on Environment, Climate and Energy end up?

How did the G20 on Environment, Climate and Energy end up?

by Alberto Clò

The analysis by Alberto Clò, director of Energy Magazine

Not much was to be expected from the G20 (19 countries plus the European Union) in Naples on “Environment, Climate and Energy” of 22-23 July. But not that nothing came of it. Therefore, defining it as a ‘historical agreement’ is unnecessarily self-comforting.
Naples has provided yet another demonstration of the inability of the world’s greatest to reach even the smallest common action (non-declaration). Especially on the central theme in this Conference on the energy-climate relationship which, contrary to what has been argued, was not addressed for the first time in Naples, because it was in the one on climate change in Toronto in 1988. 33 years ago. Conference that set for the first time the all-political goal of reducing emissions by 20%, which have instead grown since then to around 34%.
Among the first limitations of these leaders is the stubborn claim to seek unanimity of consensus in the final communiqué. Almost as if it were a necessary and sufficient condition to carry out the commitments undertaken. An absurd claim given the profound diversity of interests between countries which are essentially aimed at not damaging their economies.
So it was for Obama’s America, which literally fled from COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009 for not signing the final communiqué, or for Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement.
Positions exactly opposite to those of Europe firmly convinced that aggressive, albeit very expensive, climate policies will lead to a radical and rapid conversion of European economies towards a new model of development and new lifestyles, as stated by Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans.
How could oil and methane producing countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Indonesia ever sign their sentence, pledging to reduce their production? Or countries like China and India to renounce the use of coal, even by 2025, from which respectively 63% and 72% of their total electricity generation originates?
Incomprehensible requests considering that the United States is still 1/5 dependent on coal in its electricity generation; Germany for ¼ (and is prepared to leave it only by 2038); Japan still accounts for about 30%.
Certain requests seem to be made on purpose to be rejected. The fact is that at the root of the failures of these summits is the unresolved question of the “common but differentiated responsibilities” in causing climate change and environmental degradation, as stated in Principle 7 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. of 1992, as well as the different capacities, economic and social conditions to cope with them between the North and the South of the world.
A belief never fully embraced by the rich countries that have caused most of the concentration of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, claiming that the other countries, the poor ones, are responsible for them.
It is embarrassing that there is only a generic reference to the commitments – hitherto largely disregarded – made by rich countries since 2009 to finance poor countries for 100 billion dollars a year in their fight against global warming. An essential intervention front that allows benefits in terms of emissions reduction that are much better than intervening directly in advanced countries.
“Due to the economic law of diminishing marginal returns”, Fabio Pistella recalled on this blog, “investments made in advanced countries are – for the same expenditure – much less profitable than those possible in emerging countries, where dynamics in the number of inhabitants and in GDP, with the inevitable consequence of the growth in demand for energy and transport and therefore in CO2 emissions “.
The press releases present a long litany of ‘we encourage’, ‘hope’, ‘say goodbye’, ‘acknowledge’ and go. There is not one that says ‘we have decided’. Therefore: no decision other than that of postponing each decision to another summit. In this case at the COP 26 of November in Glasgow, chaired by Great Britain and Italy. It is absolutely impossible that the positions on the pitch can change between now and then.
A further important conclusion emerges from Naples. And it is that Europe is totally alone in climate legislation, especially after the publication on July 14 of the “Fit for 55” Plan. The Final Communiqué makes no mention of Europe and its climate policies. What diminishes the claim, as has been written, to hold the “leadership in the energy transition”. Deriving an even more important conclusion that Europe alone will go nowhere and will not lead to any relevant results.
Even admitted and not granted that all the proposals contained in the aforementioned Plan will be accepted by Parliament and Council (of which it is to be doubted) and that they are implemented on time, global emissions of the entire world by 2030 would in fact reduce to an absolutely symbolic extent: by 0.8 billion tons out of an expected global amount. in 36-38 billion tons: just 2%. This percentage is not statistically significant given the thousand variables on which both the magnitudes of the ratio depend.
Naples therefore marks the failure of Europe in its erroneous belief that reducing its emissions would solve the fight against climate change. In a game with a negative sum: where what it loses in terms of growth, competitiveness, well-being will not be counterbalanced at all by an improvement in the conditions of the Planet.

(Extract from an article published in Energy Magazine)