G20 environment ministers in Bali boost global climate action

NUSA DUA, Indonesia — Environment leaders from the Group of 20 leading wealthy and developing countries meet on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on Wednesday for talks aimed at boosting global climate action and other issues that have been escalated by the war in Ukraine.

Implementation of each G-20 country’s contribution and synchronization of targets between developing and developed countries should be discussed in closed meetings, Indonesian Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya said , before the one-day meeting.

She expected the meeting to produce a joint agreement on three priority issues – sustainable recovery, land and ocean climate action as well as resource mobilization – to deliver on the Paris Agreement, the first universal and legally binding commitment binding on climate change.

Nurbaya opened the meeting by urging other environment ministers to preserve environmental multilateralism and make it work, as it is the only way to effectively coordinate efforts to address global challenges.

“Environmental multilateralism is the only mechanism where all countries, regardless of size and wealth, stand on a level playing field and receive equal treatment,” Nurbaya said. “The voices of all countries, North and South, developed and developing, must be heard.

Indonesia, which this year assumes the presidency of the G-20, ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016. The country pledged to reduce its emissions by 41% with international assistance by 2030, or 29% independently.

US climate envoy John Kerry was among 17 environment ministers and climate officials, in addition to more than 200 delegates attending the talks in person. Senior officials from China, Russia and Argentina participated in the meeting virtually.

In their meetings behind closed doors, environment ministers are looking at ways to increase efforts to control climate change and prevent a 1.5 degree Celsius rise in global temperatures in line with the Paris agreement and are also looking commitments by developed countries to respect their own climate pledges and climate finance for developing countries.

Russia’s war in Ukraine still eclipses Wednesday’s talks as the country increased its impact on the global environment.

Italy’s climate envoy Alessandro Modiano said in his speech that the war had serious consequences on the environment, on food and energy security, on pandemic recovery efforts as well as on the continuation of sustainable development goals.

“I must therefore emphasize that my government considers it crucial to have in this final text, clear language that reflects Russia’s unjustifiable and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine,” Modiano said.

These apparent commitments could be put to the test as G-20 environment ministers gather in the heavily guarded tourist paradise of Nusa Dua to lay the groundwork for November’s leaders’ meeting in Bali, “the island of the gods” mostly Hindu in the Muslim-majority nation of the archipelago.

In recent years, the signs of climate change have become evident, especially in Indonesia, the largest archipelago in the world with more than 17,000 islands. Last year, Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency reported a total of 2,943 disasters, including 1,288 floods, 623 landslides and 677 tornadoes.

The agency said most of the disasters were classified as hydro-meteorological disasters and heavily influenced by climatic conditions. The environmental watchdog, the Indonesian Environment Forum, has predicted that hydro-meteorological disasters in Indonesia will increase by 7% this year.

Despite the worsening impact of climate change, funding for the coal industry continues to accelerate in Indonesia. Between 2014 and 2019, bank lending for coal-fired power plants alone reached $19.4 billion, involving a number of state-owned banks, according to government data.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy is a key exporter of coal, palm oil and minerals amid global shortages of raw materials after Russia invaded Ukraine. Coal exports hit record highs in March after a brief ban on its shipments earlier this year to secure domestic supplies.

G-20 members represent about 80% of global economic output, two-thirds of the world’s population and about 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

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Karmini reported from Jakarta.

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