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: World’s richest nations stick to 1.5-degree climate pledge despite energy crunch

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The Group of 20 (G-20) largest economies included a commitment to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in the official statement that caps its meeting in Bali, Indonesia.

The inclusion of the pledge is an apparent win for international leaders fighting for a tougher climate-change stance at a separate set of meetings, known as the Conference of the Parties, or COP27, currently underway in Egypt.

Speculation had mounted that some of the globe’s wealthiest nations, many of whom are facing an energy crunch
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tied to Russia’s war in Ukraine, would fight to remove the temperature pledge, a number set in 2015 during pivotal climate talks in Paris.

Read: At G-20 summit, European leader calls for more global pressure on Russia

And earlier, U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry said that “a few” countries had resisted putting the 1.5 degree (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) target into any official closing agreement that emerges from the COP27 climate summit as well.

The temperature limit has long been a guidepost and is emphasized in the scientific community as the line above which lethally warm oceans, severe drought and heat, and coastal erosion could become even more catastrophic.

“Noting the [United Nations’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] assessments that the impact of climate change will be much lower at a temperature increase of 1.5°C compared with 2°C, we resolve to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C,” the G-20 statement said.

Read: Biden addresses COP27 on firmer climate footing, but world wants U.S. leadership on pollution

In Egypt, meanwhile, Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate criticized the continued discussion and resistance from wealthier countries to establish a “loss and damage” financing structure.

“Loss and damage” made it onto the official COP27 agenda this year after failed tries earlier. It’s meant to financially support developing nations on climate change’s front lines. These developing nations supply much of the energy sources, minerals and other raw materials that drive electricity consumption, vehicle ownership, plentiful diets and other Earth-warming habits at much stronger levels in wealthy nations, who then emit more pollution. Such a plan has been shorthanded to “climate reperations,” a tension-filled phrase that puts large pollution emitters like the U.S. and China in the hotseat.

Nakate also called for governments around the world to phase out fossil fuels
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to keep the Paris accord’s 1.5 target.

“It’s important that we not only address the issue of loss and damage, but also address the root cause of loss and damage,” she said, according to the Associated Press.

That objective got a boost when the G-20 leading and emerging economies meeting in Bali ended with the statement that endorsed the 1.5 degree target and additionally, made 49 references to climate, a marked change from recent years.

A small thaw in relations between the U.S. and China at the G-20 also boosted hopes that the world’s top two polluters can help get a deal over the line in Egypt. The U.S. and China take the No. 1 and No. 2 emissions spots, although switch places depending on whether the comparison is total emissions or on a per-capita basis. India comes in third.

Related: Biden, Xi pledge renewed cooperation on climate as world pressures two top polluters

Kerry confirmed Wednesday that he and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua had resumed formal talks after discussions were frozen three months ago by China in retaliation for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan. China does not recognize Taiwan’s independence.

The G-20 statement also reiterates the countries’ commitments to the “phasedown” of  “unabated” coal power, which targets planet-warming emissions that can’t be capped at the point of combustion. 

Last year’s climate conference agreement at COP26 called for the phasedown of coal and the elimination of “inefficient” fossil subsidies. It was a watered down statement in part, after China and India teamed up to fight for softer language on coal.

The G-20 is made up of the U.S., China, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the European Union.

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