G20 environment ministers in Bali spur global climate action

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Two mounted police patrol a G20 conference venue in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022. The G20’s Joint Environment and Climate Ministerial Meeting (JECMM) will be held on August 31. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AP) — Environment officials from the Group of 20 leading rich and developing nations are gathering Wednesday on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali for talks to spur global climate action and other troubles that have worsened due to the war in Ukraine.

Implementing each G-20 nation’s contribution and synchronizing targets among developing and developed countries are to be discussed in the closed-door meetings, Indonesia’s environment minister Siti Nurbaya said before the one-day meeting.

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

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

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

Indonesia, the holder of this year’s G-20 presidency, ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016. The country is committed to reducing emissions by 41% with international assistance by 2030, or by 29% independently.

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry was among 17 environment ministers and climate officials in addition to over 200 delegates who were attending the talks in person. Top officials from China, Russia and Argentina joined the meeting virtually.

In their closed-door meetings, the environment ministers are seeking for 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 also searching for commitments from developed countries to fulfill their own climate pledges and climate financing for developing countries.

Russia’s war in Ukraine still overshadows Wednesday’s talks as countries raised its global environment impact.

Italy’s climate envoy Alessandro Modiano in his speech said the war was having grave consequences on the environment, on food and energy security, on the pandemic recovery efforts as well as on pursuing of sustainable development goals.

“I must therefore stress that my government consider crucial to have in this final text, a clear language that reflects the unjustifiable and unprovoked Russia war of aggression against Ukraine,” Modiano said.

That apparent commitments may be put to the test as the G-20 environment ministers meet in the heavily-guarded Nusa Dua tourist haven to lay the groundwork for the leaders meeting in November in Bali, the mostly Hindu “island of the gods” in the majority Muslim archipelago nation.

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

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

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

Southeast Asia’s largest economy is a key exporter of coal, palm oil and minerals amid a global shortage in commodities after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Coal exports increased to record levels in March after a brief ban on its shipments early this year to secure domestic supplies.

Members of the G-20 account for about 80% of the world’s economic output, two-thirds of the world’s populations and an estimated 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

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Karmini reported from Jakarta.

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