September 2, 2022
JAKARTA – A Group of 20 meeting of environment ministers in Bali concluded on Wednesday without a joint communiqué for a leaders’ summit later in the year, with group chair Indonesia saying some countries had disagreed on the proposed document’s wording.
Speaking at a press conference after the one-day gathering, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said the meeting chair would be issuing a summary of discussions instead of a joint communiqué as a result of the differing views.
“In the process, the discussion on these commitments has been quite challenging given the various views and implications for the interests of each member country,” Siti told reporters.
Commitments discussed at Wednesday’s meeting included efforts to reduce the impact of climate change, the loss of biodiversity and land damage, as well as efforts to reduce pollution and environmental damage.
The G20 environment ministers’ working group had met in Yogyakarta in March and had come up with a preliminary “pre-zero” draft of the communiqué at a follow-up session in Jakarta in June.
The communiqué had been expected to help Indonesia attain its G20 presidency goals of advancing global health architecture, furthering the digital transformation and facilitating a clean energy transition.
The ministry’s director general for climate change control, Laksmi Dhewanthi, said the chair’s summary contained 50 paragraphs of pledges that the 20 countries had agreed upon in general, including to strengthen commitments on environmental and climate sustainability.
“We have 20 countries, each with their own circumstances, laws and politics. There are terms introduced in the [proposed consensus] documents that are not recognized by some countries,” Laksmi said on the sidelines of the ministerial meeting.
At the beginning of the meeting, Siti told delegates that countries would have to act together to tackle global warming or risk the planet ending up in “uncharted territory where no future will be sustainable”.
“We know that climate change could become an amplifier and multiplier of the crisis. We cannot solve those global environmental problems on our own,” she said.
Seventeen ministers were present at the meeting, including US special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry, British Climate Minister Alok Sharma and officials from India, Australia, Italy, Brazil, Japan and South Korea.
As the G20 chair, Indonesia invited representatives from the African Union to the talks for the first time, with Siti saying that voices from all countries, regardless of their wealth and size, should be heard.
The meeting is a prelude to a November summit that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has said Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend, despite Moscow’s increasing isolation after invading Ukraine.
Britain’s Sharma, who was president of last year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), said the war in Ukraine had increased the urgency of the need for a shift to renewable sources of energy and the delivery of the Glasgow Climate Pact.
“The current energy crisis has demonstrated the vulnerability of countries relying on fossil fuels controlled by hostile actors,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
Sharma added that now was the time for the G20 to step up and deliver on COP26 commitments as “the science clearly shows our window to act is closing rapidly”.
US Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael S. Regan said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had created instability in the beleaguered country, ranging from food loss to environmental hazards.
“It is important that we stand together with the Ukrainian people and be prepared that once this war is over, we can be a partner and rebuild the country to ensure they can be a really strong partner in combating the climate crisis and in environment protections,” Regan said.
Russia sent a deputy minister for economic development in person to the talks, according to the list of attendees.