Leaders of the G20 and medical professionals gathered to pose for a photograph on day one of the G20 Summit in Rome, Italy, on 30 October 2021. (Ludovic Marin – AFP/Lehtikuva)


MARKKU OLLIKAINEN, the chairperson of the Finnish Climate Change Panel, has voiced his delight with reports emanating from Rome, Italy.

Leaders of the G20 on Sunday issued a final declaration demanding effective measures to contain global warming to 1.5°C over per-industrial levels and pledging to pursue carbon neutrality “by or around” the midway point of the century.

While the declaration acknowledges the need to step up national emissions reduction targets, it lays down only a handful of concrete measures, however.

“We recognise that the impacts of climate change at 1.5°C are much lower than at 2°C. Keeping 1.5°C within reach will require meaningful and effective actions and commitment by all countries, taking into account different approaches, through the development of clear national pathways that align long-term ambition with short- and medium-term goals and with international co-operation and support, including finance and technology, sustainable and responsible consumption and production as critical enablers, in the context of sustainable development,” it reads.

The economic powerhouses are responsible for almost 80 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions, a fact that has prompted many to demand that they commit more strongly to making sure their emissions are at least offset by carbon sinks.

“If the G20 is committed to the 1.5°C target, it signals a significant turning point for international climate policy. My interpretation is that the decision sends a very encouraging signal for Glasgow,” Ollikainen stated to YLE on Sunday.

The G20 meeting preceded the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference held in Glasgow, Scotland, between 31 October and 12 November. China and Russia, for example, may now outline ambitious national emissions reduction targets at the meeting, gauged Ollikainen.

“When it comes to Russia, it has been clear for a couple of years now that climate change is hitting it really strongly through the Arctic region. It’s just as clear in some parts of China. It has been somewhat stunning that the leaders of these countries haven’t been eager to talk about climate actions,” he said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Glasgow represents the last chance to make decisions on measures that stop temperatures from rising more than 1.5°C. His assessment was echoed by Ollikainen.

“We’re now at the limit where we have to take action. And if we don’t, the 1.5°C target will slip through our fingers,” warned Ollikainen.

The primary goal of the conference, he viewed, is to draw out commitments from countries that have yet to do so, such as Brazil, China, Mexico and Russia. The participants must also agree on initiatives that ensure temperatures do not rise more than 1.5°C, international market mechanisms, transparency principles and green funding schemes.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT