G20 Climate Talks

It is evident that global conflict is a significant blocker in states working together, but the G20 climate talks in Bali this week indicate just how difficult finding agreement is in the international community. The fact that the G20 countries failed to even issue a joint communique speaks volumes. Ukraine featured prominently in the discussions alongside condemnations from Russia, but there was an element of repetitiveness to the G20 Joint Environment and Climate Ministers’ Meeting due to the usual lack of agreement on the terms mentioned in any joint climate communication. Definitions and terms carry weight when for instance the difference lies between carbon neutral and cutting down emissions without a specific aim in mind. Similarly, differences between states persist over important targets, such as the one to limit global average temperature rises to 1.5 degrees. Unsurprisingly, developed countries such as the US, which have historically benefitted from climate degradation, and current benefactors such as India and China, remain the biggest stumbling blocks to any compromise over climate discussions. There is also the matter of inclusivity. As one of the biggest stakeholders in the climate crisis, Pakistan, and other affected states deserve a seat at every table where climate change is being discussed. Multilateral approaches are no longer enough, this is a crisis that must be dealt with by all. Indonesia, as the current chair of G20, invited representatives for the African Union on this occasion, but any attempts at inclusivity must be substantive, relevant, and more than just eyewash. For us here at home, these discussions taking place in Bali are urgent, yet their futility and lack of agreement tell us all we need to know about what to expect for multilateral endeavours in the next few years to come. Try as we might, the global community is not yet ready to make productive changes in economic production and environmental protection—at least enough changes to make a difference—it is our responsibility to change this mindset, considering that we have gotten the shorter straw in terms of facing the disastrous effects of pollution. Droughts, floods, wildfires and more—how many more disasters will we live through before we decide to seek out a change in tack?

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