G20 environment ministers agree priority issues

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Environment officials from the Group of 20 leading rich and developing nations met on Wednesday on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali for talks on climate action and the global impact of the war in Ukraine

They discussed the implementation of each G20 nation’s contribution to fighting climate change and synchronising targets among developing and developed countries, Indonesian environment minister Siti Nurbaya said after the meeting.

She said it had produced a joint agreement with three priority issues — a sustainable economic recovery, land-based and ocean-based climate action, and resource mobilisation to accelerate environmental protection — to help realise the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“We are actually in a climate crisis position, no longer just climate change,” Ms Nurbaya said.

“We must work even faster to bring the global temperatures down as low as possible.”

She opened the meeting by urging fellow environment ministers to make the Paris Agreement work, as 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,” Ms Nurbaya said.

“The voices of all countries, North and South, developed and developing, must be heard.”

US special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry, left to right, Indonesian environment and forestry minister Siti Nurbaya and US Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael Regan
US climate envoy John Kerry, left to right, Indonesian environment minister Siti Nurbaya and US Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael Regan (Firdia Lisnawati/AP)

US climate envoy John Kerry was among 17 environment ministers and climate officials, in addition to over 300 delegates, attending the talks in person. Officials from China, Russia and Argentina joined the meeting virtually.

Ms Nurbaya said reaching mutual agreement was not easy, as each country had its own values and interests.

Russia’s war in Ukraine cast a shadow over Wednesday’s talks as countries raised its global environment impact.

Italian climate envoy Alessandro Modiano said the war was having grave consequences on the environment, on food and energy security, on pandemic recovery efforts and on pursuing sustainable development goals.

John Kerry and Cop26 president Alok Sharma
John Kerry, left, and Cop26 president Alok Sharma (AP)

But implementing their commitment would be challenging, Ms Nurbaya said.

She said all the G20 environment ministers had agreed to reduce the impact of land degradation and drought, enhance conservation protection and sustainable restoration of ecosystems, land and forests, to reduce the impact of climate change and biodiversity loss.

In recent years, signs of climate change have become more obvious, including in Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation with more than 17,000 islands.

Environment watchdog Indonesian Forum for the Environment has predicted that climate-related hydro-meteorological disasters in Indonesia will increase by 7% this year.

Indonesia, 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 shipments early this year to secure domestic supplies.

Members of the G20 account for about 80% of the world’s economic output, two-thirds of the world’s population and an estimated 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

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