World Leaders Continue to Disappoint When It Comes to Environmental Goals

by Molly Dye
November 18th, 2021

Last month, the Group of Twenty (G20), an intergovernmental forum that discusses the global economy, climate change, financial responsibility, and more met in Rome, Italy. The environment was the primary topic of discussion, as a precursor to the U.N.’s climate summit known as COP26.

After two days of negotiation, G20 leaders reached an overall agreement to “cut emissions drastically right now, to stay in line with 1.5C” (Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International). Although, countries made few concrete commitments, with disagreements over phasing out coal, oil and gas.

Activists and political leaders have criticized the major powers’ lack of commitment to the climate, calling the agreement “weak and lacking both ambition and vision.”

Concerns also arose when China’s General Secretary of the Communist Party, Xi Jinping, and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, did not join the meetings in person. This demonstrated a lack of urgency present in the countries that have some of the largest percentage of global emissions.

The nineteen countries that make up the G20 (including the European Union) account for 80% of Earth’s emissions. Therefore, the decisions that these countries make in terms of climate action has a large impact on the direction we go in terms of the climate crisis.

G20’s lack of addressing achieving net zero by 2050disappoints activists. Net zero refers to reducing greenhouse gas emissions so much so that a country absorbs the same amount of emissions that the atmosphere gives off.

António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, noted his disappointment in the G20 countries for not stepping up with greater commitments to the environment, tweeting that he had “hopes unfulfilled” by the recent talks.

Despite these grim outlooks, leaders and citizens look to the COP26 this month for stronger commitments to emission reduction across the globe. Located in Glasgow, thousands have marched in the streets to demand action at these meetings and explain the urgency of the climate crisis. Other marches have taken place in cities like London and in Australia, France, Canda, Turkey, and more. Prominent climate activists such as Greta Thunberg have spoken out at these protests with messages demanding that G20 leaders take action immediately.

As BBC reports, the outcomes from the COP26 should provide more concrete goals, commitments to action, and leadership when it comes to addressing the climate. Climate activists and leaders will continue to push for more work and more responsibility in the pursuit of saving the climate for a better future.