As G20 Summit Nears in Flood-Stricken New Delhi, Unresolved Climate Policy Takes Center Stage

by Gabriel Martinez
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Climate Policy

Rekha Devi, a 30-year-old agricultural laborer, faces impending eviction from her family’s temporary shelter situated on an incomplete overpass. She anticipates being forced to return to the floodplains of the Yamuna River, where their modest residence and vegetable patch remain submerged following July’s catastrophic rainfall.

Devi and her family of eight were among those who had to abandon their homes due to unprecedented monsoon downpours that resulted in over 100 fatalities in northern India, displaced multitudes, and submerged significant portions of New Delhi. The floodwaters swept away everything they had amassed over two decades, including her husband’s work instruments and their children’s educational materials, compelling them, along with thousands of others, to take refuge in temporary relief camps.

Ironically, their provisional location is less than 10 kilometers from the venue of the forthcoming G20 summit. This international gathering will present global leaders with a crucial opportunity to formulate measures aimed at safeguarding vulnerable populations like Devi’s from future extreme weather events. However, Devi remains skeptical, expecting little more than forced eviction due to security protocols for the summit.

As the G20 leaders convene in New Delhi, the unresolved issue of climate policy looms large, particularly as recent extreme weather incidents continue to ravage India and other nations. “If these leaders were residents here, would they subject their children to these adverse conditions?” Devi questions, expressing disillusionment with the current lack of action.

While climatic disturbances such as cyclones, heavy precipitation, landslides, and extreme temperatures have beset India and the globe, climate ministers from the G20 nations—the world’s leading economies and major greenhouse gas emitters—concluded their most recent meeting in July without reaching consensus on pivotal climate policies.

Key stumbling blocks cited by energy specialists involve nations’ inability to agree on propositions such as capping CO2 emissions by 2025, instituting a carbon border tax, scaling up the use of renewable energies, phasing out fossil fuels, and augmenting aid to the countries most afflicted by climate change.

Shayak Sengupta, an energy research fellow at the Observer Research Foundation America, acknowledged that no substantial agreements on reducing fossil fuels or bolstering renewables had been reached. Yet, he expressed optimism over initiatives focusing on specific sectors like green hydrogen, critical minerals, energy efficiency, and financing for energy transition.

As the G20 summit looms, leaders have a final chance to articulate a robust climate action agenda that not only reflects the consortium’s capabilities but also reinforces global confidence ahead of the COP28 conference in Dubai later this year.

“We require decisions of a magnitude that exceed the authority of mere climate ministers,” remarked Luca Bergamaschi, CEO of the Italian climate think tank Ecco Climate. Bergamaschi emphasizes that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a pivotal role to play as a global mediator, particularly concerning climate and energy negotiations, as India currently holds the G20 presidency.

The world watches intently, hopeful that international leaders will recognize the urgency to escalate actions that transition away from fossil fuels and amplify renewable energy initiatives.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Climate Policy

What is the G20 Summit’s focus in New Delhi?

The G20 Summit in New Delhi centers on addressing unresolved climate policy issues amidst ongoing flooding and extreme weather events. Global leaders aim to find solutions and strategies.

How has flooding impacted New Delhi?

Devastating monsoon rains led to flooding, causing displacement and casualties. Rekha Devi’s family, along with thousands, fled their submerged homes and now face eviction from makeshift shelters.

What major climate policy concerns persist among G20 nations?

Key issues include disagreements over carbon emissions caps by 2025, carbon border taxes, renewable energy expansion, fossil fuel reduction, and providing aid to nations heavily affected by climate change.

What initiatives have emerged despite disagreements?

While broader agreements are lacking, specific efforts in sectors like green hydrogen, critical minerals, energy efficiency, and financing for energy transition have garnered attention.

How does the G20 Summit aim to impact climate action?

Leaders intend to formulate an ambitious climate agenda that showcases the G20’s commitment and fosters global confidence leading up to the COP28 conference in Dubai.

Can climate ministers effectively address major climate and energy issues?

Some experts suggest that the scale of decisions required exceeds the mandate of climate ministers, necessitating leadership from global figures like Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

What role does India play in global climate negotiations?

India, currently holding the G20 presidency, has an opportunity to step up as a global leader and facilitate international commitments, particularly in terms of climate and energy discussions.

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