Leaders of the Group of 20 major economies agreed on a final statement on Sunday that urged “meaningful and effective” action to limit global warming, but offered few concrete commitments, angering climate activists.
The result of days of tough negotiation among diplomats leaves huge work to be done at the broader United Nations COP26 climate summit in Scotland, which starts this week.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi hailed the Rome gathering, saying for the first time all G20 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.
“We made sure that our dreams are not only alive but they are progressing,” Draghi told a closing news conference, brushing off criticism from environmentalists that the G20 had not gone nearly far enough to resolve the crisis.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who warned on Friday that the world was rushing headlong towards climate disaster, said the Rome summit was not all he hoped for.
“While I welcome the #G20’s recommitment to global solutions, I leave Rome with my hopes unfulfilled — but at least they are not buried,” he said in a tweet.
The G20, which includes Brazil, China, India, Germany and the United States, accounts for 60% of the world’s population and an estimated 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
U.N. experts say that even if current national plans are fully implemented, the world is headed for global warming of 2.7C, with catastrophic consequences.
Draghi, acting president of the G20, said nations would keep on improving their plans to lower carbon emissions in the years ahead, adding that he was surprised by how far countries like China and Russia had shifted their stance in recent days.
“It is easy to suggest difficult things. It is very, very difficult to actually execute them,” he said.
As the G-20 ended, there was one immediate benefit for local residents: Those living in the surrounding neighborhood, known as EUR, got their normal lives back.
During the two-day summit, EUR has been a neighborhood transformed. Streets have been cut off. Many businesses have been closed. At one of the few open cafes, employees needed permission slips to come to work, and U.S. Secret Service members were among the clients.
“Most residents disappeared. I think they’re holed up in their homes, a bit scared by the event,” said Dario Rosa, the cafe’s owner. “People will ask me, ‘Aren’t you afraid?,’ and I tell them, ‘I think I’m in one of the most secure spots of the whole planet.’” /Compiled from wires