G20 agrees on 1.5 degree climate change target in Rome

Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi at a meeting at the G20 leaders' summit
Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi at a meeting at the G20 leaders' summit on October 30th, 2021. Leaders of the world's most advanced nations are in Rome for the first in-person gathering since the pandemic. Jacques WITT / POOL / AFP
G20 countries have agreed on the need to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, in language tougher than the 2015 Paris accords, several sources close to summit negotiations in Rome said Sunday.

Three sources told AFP that diplomats had approved language for a final summit communique going beyond what was agreed six years ago, when the landmark climate deal called for capping global warming at well below 2 degrees, and ideally closer to 1.5 degrees.

The declaration, expected to be released later Sunday, would talk about keeping the 1.5 degrees target “within reach”, one source said, without elaborating.

Earlier drafts seen by AFP suggested that G20 countries were going to fall short of a firm pledge on the 1.5 figure, but officials worked through the night to toughen up the language ahead of crucial UN talks on climate starting in Glasgow on Sunday.

The Group of 20 major economies emit nearly 80 percent of carbon emissions, and a promise of action on their part would provide a much-needed boost to the make-or-break COP26 summit.

Opening the formal discussions on climate on the second and final day of the Rome summit on Sunday, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi urged counterparts to aim high.

“The decisions we make today will have a direct impact on the success of the Glasgow summit and ultimately on our ability to tackle the climate crisis,” he said.

He added: “We need to set long-term goals which are consistent with the objectives of the Paris agreement and make short-term changes to achieve them.”

Experts say meeting the 1.5 degree target — the most ambitious goal in the 2015 Paris climate deal — means slashing global emissions nearly in half by 2030 and to “net-zero” by 2050.

The sources said leaders approved language going beyond what was agreed in the 2015 Paris Accords, which called for capping global warming at well below 2 degrees, and ideally closer to 1.5 degrees.

Experts say meeting a 1.5 degree target would mean slashing global emissions nearly in half by 2030 and to “net-zero” by 2050.

‘A great success’
On Saturday, summit host Mario Draghi, the Italian prime minister, urged G20 leaders to act together on climate, but also on improving the delivery of vaccines and on helping the world recover from the devastation of Covid-19.

“From the pandemic, to climate change, to fair and equitable taxation, going it alone is simply not an option,” he told the gathered leaders.

The G20 showed on Saturday they could work together on some issues, green-lighting a deal for a minimum tax of 15 percent on global corporations, as part of a reform plan inked by almost 140 nations.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen hailed it as “historic”, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel — attending her last G20 summit with her likely successor Olaf Scholz — called it a “great success”.

Rome hosted the first in-person G20 summit since the coronavirus pandemic, and chose to do it in the monumental surroundings of EUR, a fascist-era neighbourhood known for its modernist architecture.


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