China hits back at allegations of obstruction during G20 climate talks

The G20 meeting of climate ministers in Chennai ended without new pledges to cut emissions

Stuti Mishra
Wednesday 02 August 2023 15:33 BST
G20 ministers fail to reach agreement on key climate issues

China has denied that it obstructed progress at the recent Group of 20 (G20) meeting in India focused on the climate crisis.

The country’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday reports that China and Saudi Arabia blocked discussions on energy transition were “completely inconsistent with the facts”.

The meeting of climate ministers from the world’s largest economies ended without a joint communique or new pledges to cut fossil fuel emissions at a time of record-shattering heatwaves and deadly storms around the world, drawing condemnation from scientists and activists.

The G20 group acknowledged “with concern” after the meeting in Chennai that measures to address the climate crisis remain “insufficient”.

China’s protestations come afterThe Financial Times reported last week that China, the world’s largest emitter, had refused to debate crucial issues such as emissions targets, and was backed up by oil-rich Saudi-Arabia.

“I’ve never seen such wrecking tactics employed at a multilateral meeting before,” a source told the FT.

China rejected the claims saying that it “regrets” the failure to reach an agreement and blamed it on “geopolitical issues” brought up by other countries “for no reason”, according to the statement.

The foreign ministry added that the G20 should build political consensus among members and “fully respect the different development stages and national conditions of countries”.

The Independent has contacted Saudi Arabia’s Energy Ministry for comment.

The meeting has been widely considered a failure and a “clear backtracking on previous commitments” by climate experts.

With the G20 summit of national leaders in September and the Cop28 summit on the horizon, the gathering of climate ministers was seen as a crucial gauge of the level of urgency surrounding the global crisis.

July 2023 was the hottest month in human history, according to scientists, driven by the greenhouse gases released from burning fossil fuels.

China, which accounts for more than half of global coal production, is facing tougher calls to cut emissions along with all major polluters. These have been combined with demands to hold rich nations financially responsible for their historic emissions as climate disasters worsen, particularly in the developing world.

China has not escaped the weather extremes and has experienced record-breaking heat and rains this year.

This week, parts of China including Beijing have been battered by the heaviest rain in 140 years, forecasters said. Last month, the country recorded its hottest ever temperature at 52C (125.6F) amid heatwaves which also impacted Europe and North America.

China has bristled at calls to do more to cut greenhouse gases, saying that its historical and per capita carbon emissions are still lower than those of the US. The superpower has pledged to peak emissions before the end of the decade and be carbon-neutral by 2060.

But despite building record amounts of green infrastructure, China’s fossil fuel consumption continues to rise, with no plans to start cutting coal use until 2026.

Additional reporting by agencies

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