G7 way off-track in emission cuts to achieve 1.5°C target; finding significant as WMO says Asia ‘global disaster capital’

Present policies mostly paper tigers; India need greater ministerial integration to counter climate impacts, say experts
This year, the G7 Summit will be held in Italy. Photo: @Antonio_Tajani / X (Formerly Twitter)
This year, the G7 Summit will be held in Italy. Photo: @Antonio_Tajani / X (Formerly Twitter)

Two reports, both released on April 23, have exposed the gross inaction of developed countries in countering climatic impacts globally including in Asia, which has been deemed as the world’s ‘disaster capital’ by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The report on the response by Group of Seven (G7) countries — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States — to climate change shows that these governments currently stand much off track to achieve required emission cuts by 2030. That is the requirement to keep the rise in global temperature within the 1.5°C target, compared to the pre-industrial benchmark, as mandated in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

“Group of Seven (G7) countries are on track to achieve barely half the necessary greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2030 to meet the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C target,” says the report prepared by Climate Analytics, a global climate science and policy institute.

The findings assume importance as the document has been published just few days ahead of the G7 Climate, Energy, and Environment Ministers meeting starting from April 28 in Venaria Reale, Italy.

“WMO’s analysis spells out the irony for a region of the world which holds about 60 per cent of the global population and can’t be overlooked. However, another study shows how the G7, a club of the most developed areas, is lagging behind in its emission cuts,” Aarti Khosla, director of Climate Trends, a research-based consulting and capacity building organisation, told Down To Earth (DTE).

“The cost of inaction, as borne out in the reports, will be very high for climate-impacted communities around the world, including those in Asia,” reminded Harjeet Singh, a global climate activist.

Missing the bus

The report says that while the “G7 economies need to slash their own emissions by 58% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels to do their part to limit warming to 1.5°C … the current collective 2030 ambition level of the G7 stands at an insufficient 40-42%, but existing policies suggest that the G7 will likely only achieve a 19-33% reduction by the end of this decade”.

“Implementing national climate targets is imperative; no G7 member is even on track to meet their existing targets,” cautioned the analysis.

It recommends that these major economies should commit “to phasing out domestic coal and fossil gas power generation by 2030 and 2035 respectively (and) end public financing and other support for fossil fuels abroad”.

The document further suggests that the countries must “accelerate towards the global goal of tripling renewables and doubling energy efficiency by 2030 … commit new and additional international climate finance, well beyond the $100 billion goal, and develop innovative financing instruments to accelerate the provision of accessible finance to vulnerable countries”.

“These economies, which make up 38% of the world’s GDP, are not pulling their weight, though they have both the technology and the finance to up their game,” alleged Neil Grant, the lead author of the analysis, to DTE.

“The recently concluded World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings show a marginal increase of $11bn in finance but the gap is still too large and hindering collectivism in climate action. It’s urgent that G7 countries should fix the finance first,” Sanjay Vashist, director of Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA), pointed out to DTE.

Indian climate governance ‘working in silos’

Roxy Mathew Koll, a senior scientist with the Indian Institute for Tropical Meteorology in Pune, observed that India needs to combine integration of climate policies at the top, with climate action at the ground level to combat burgeoning climate impacts in the country, as outlined in the WMO report.

“We need tight integration within ministries like earth science, environment, agriculture and others that are linked to climate action. That is not happening currently,” observed Koll. He added that the country further needs ‘rigorous granular level assessment and climate adaptation policies, at least at district level’.

Anjal Prakash, a public policy expert at the Indian School of Business (ISB) & Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change author, also argued in favour of more integration within linked departments and involvement of experts in framing Indian climate policy.

“The present climate governance is working more in silos. The plans mooted are mostly paper tigers and hardly provide long-term solutions. India needs a specialised group of people to be involved, as well as more integration, in climate policy framing. You may either have a separate ministry on climate change, or at least a multidisciplinary set up that will engage and coordinate with all linked ministries on climate change to dig out appropriate climate solutions, including local ones,” pointed out Prakash.

“The WMO report shows though all parts of the world have warmed in record proportion during 1991-2023, the highest decadal increase was recorded over Europe and India,” K J Ramesh, former director general of India Meteorological Department, told DTE.   

Experts underlined the threats mentioned in the WMO report.

“The Indian subcontinent is covered on all three sides by the fastest warming tropical ocean and the melting Himalayan glaciers on the north. This has made the region a poster child of climate change,” said Koll.

The scientist added that “the number of cyclones in the Arabian Sea has increased by 50 per cent during the last four decades, and extremely severe cyclones like Tauktae and Amphan are projected to form in the future”.

He lamented that though climate change is directly affecting a large share of the population, it is not even a point of discussion in the Lok Sabha Elections of 2024.

“The State of the Climate in Asia 2023 report unveils a harsh reality: the region is warming faster than the global average, with devastating consequences. The report underscores the urgent need for evidence-based policies, early warning systems, and enhanced climate services,” observed Anjal Prakash.

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