18 world leaders commit to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by a 40 percent by 2030

BRUSSELS – Seventeen of the world’s leading economies have agreed to a joint call for a 40-percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from electric-power plants by 2030. Other nations including the European Union and…

18 world leaders commit to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by a 40 percent by 2030

BRUSSELS – Seventeen of the world’s leading economies have agreed to a joint call for a 40-percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from electric-power plants by 2030.

Other nations including the European Union and the United States supported the proposal made by the G20, according to the Swiss presidency, which is presiding over the meeting in Brussels. Germany had not taken a formal position and a G20 spokesperson was unable to say whether it supported the new rules.

The leaders of the 17 nations include China, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Russia, Japan, India, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, South Korea and Australia.

The so-called Clean Power Plan, originally intended to curb emissions from coal-burning power plants, has been under challenge in court for almost two years.

The G20 meeting will end with formal agreements that are all non-binding. But the announcement carries huge symbolic importance because it signals that the broad consensus on carbon reduction among the world’s most important economies represents a significant further step toward the goals of the Paris climate accord.

Under that agreement, agreed in Paris in 2015, individual countries agreed to reduce emissions by 25 to 40 percent below their 1990 levels by 2030.

Before the two-day summit began Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, met with Swiss President Doris Leuthard and discussed possible actions to bolster implementation of the climate agreement. Altmaier and Leuthard discussed ways to support an economic transition toward a cleaner energy system by supporting Europe’s economies in the change. Altmaier has already called for a 5 percent cut in the emissions of coal.

In their meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, the leaders of the countries will also discuss the potential for harnessing solar energy to capture emissions for use as carbon neutral electricity.

The seven-page joint statement also calls for financial support to help developing countries create cleaner power plants and energy sources.

Among the highlights in the joint statement is an endorsement of “the enormous value” that solar energy can bring to the global economy. The G20 states firmly called for investments in “modern technologies” in energy.

It is not clear how G20 leaders are expecting to achieve the proposed reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. According to the independent World Bank, investment in the world’s electricity grid climbed 19 percent in 2016. And the share of renewable energy among the world’s electricity supply has increased from 8 percent in 2013 to 18 percent in 2016.

Although electric-power plants are a huge source of pollution, the reductions pledged in the agreement are technically far-fetched and unlikely to meet many global standards. For example, the agreement indicates that 28 percent of the greenhouse gas reductions would come from the economy overall – largely driven by electric-power consumption.

According to the World Resources Institute, the United States, Mexico and the Netherlands alone produced as much CO2 in 2015 as Russia and a third of Germany.

Edie Lederer is a reporter at The Associated Press.

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