ROME (Reuters) – Leaders of the Group of 20 major economies made important progress towards tackling the growing threat of global warming, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Sunday, hailing the two-day summit a success.
Draghi, acting president of the G20, told reporters that for the first time all member states had agreed on the importance of capping global warming at the 1.5 degrees Celsius level that scientists say is vital to avoid disaster.
He said the aim, as laid out in the final communique, to achieve net zero carbon emissions by around the middle of the century also marked a breakthrough by comparison with previous G20 commitments.
“We made sure that our dreams are not only alive but they are progressing,” Draghi said in a closing news conference, brushing aside criticism from climate activists that the G20 had not gone nearly far enough in trying to resolve the crisis.
“G20 leaders have made substantial commitments … It is easy to suggest difficult things. It is very, very difficult to actually execute them,” he added, saying he thought countries would continuously improve on their climate initiatives.
Charity Oxfam was one of many groups that registered their disappointment, calling the Rome summit a “missed opportunity” full of “vague promises and platitudes” that failed to deliver badly needed concrete action.
Draghi also dismissed suggestions that a group of countries, such as China and Russia, had dented efforts at furthering international cooperation over key issues.
“It was a good surprise. We saw countries that had been quite reluctant to move along the lines we had been suggesting and pressing. And then they moved,” he said.
Most of the G20 leaders in Rome will now fly on to a broader UN climate summit here in Scotland, known as the COP26.
“What’s happened here is that the COP26 will build on a pretty solid foundation, with respect to what it was before,” Draghi said.
“We changed the language, the goalpost. 1.5 is now universally agreed, before it wasn’t. Carbon neutrality around 2050 has been agreed, no additional net emissions, before there was no commitment whatsoever. We talked about the end of the century.”
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