Group of 20 Energy Ministers’ Meeting Ends Without Consensus on Fossil Fuel Phase-Down, Slowing Climate Diplomacy Progress
The recent meeting of the Group of 20 energy ministers in India concluded without reaching a consensus on the phase-down of fossil fuels, highlighting the slow progress on climate diplomacy in the lead-up to crucial meetings this year. While some nations acknowledged the necessity to reduce the unrestrained use of oil and gas, others contended that carbon removal technologies, like carbon capture, use, and sequestration (CCUS) or other abatement technologies, could address emission concerns. India’s power minister, Raj Kumar Singh, revealed that both approaches were considered acceptable, and overall, the majority of members agreed on the importance of addressing climate change. The talks took place in Goa and were aimed at establishing a framework for the energy transition in anticipation of the upcoming G 20 leaders’ meeting in September and the COP28 forum in Dubai in December. The urgency of climate action was further emphasized by extreme weather events affecting Europe, Asia, and the US, including deadly heatwaves in India. Notably, negotiations between the United States and China, the two largest emitters globally, did not yield significant progress, though both countries agreed to intensify discussions and found some common ground on reducing coal usage, according to US climate envoy John Kerry. During the Goa meeting, officials also struggled to find consensus on criticizing Russia for its invasion of Ukraine in 2022, which disrupted global supply chains and impacted energy provisions to several countries. German Economy Minister Robert Habeck criticized Russia’s First Deputy Energy Minister Pavel Sorokin for promoting a distorted worldview on the energy crisis and the conflict in Ukraine. Some disagreements emerged over increasing renewable generation capacity by 2030, with Russia and Saudi Arabia objecting to the agreement, and China preventing enhanced cooperation on critical raw materials, as mentioned by Habeck. Despite these challenges, there was unanimous agreement on mobilizing low-cost finance for the energy transition, fostering the development of clean technologies like hydrogen, energy storage, and ensuring universal access to energy, according to the meeting document. Additionally, the group decided to consider blue hydrogen, which is produced with carbon dioxide sequestration, on par with green hydrogen, indicating a willingness to explore multiple sustainable energy options.