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G20 needs more ambition in climate fight – POLITICO

ROME — Political leaders took far too long to recognize the full consequences of climate change yet the world’s 20 leading economies remain divided over proposals to step up the fight against global warming, European Council President Charles Michel said in an interview.

Speaking to POLITICO ahead of the G20 leaders’ working session on climate policy on Sunday morning, Michel called on his fellow leaders to put in the necessary money and effort — by meeting the goals of the Paris climate accords and then moving beyond them.

“Based on the on the on the new scientific reports, we see that it’s not enough, that we need to be more ambitious,” Michel said.

“We took too much time collectively, before we decided to listen carefully to the scientists,” the Council president said. “But now in the last in two, three, four years, we understood now this is serious and now we must accelerate. And because we took too much time before we understood now, the tasks are very complex and very difficult.”

Michel met Friday morning with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said that he understood from that conversation that some G20 leaders would be extremely reluctant to agree on a summit communiqué that raises their targets and commitments.

“For some countries like India,” he said, “we can see that for them, it’s not easy to accept, on the strengthening of the goal, because for them it’s more important first to make sure that everyone is delivering on the Paris Agreement.”

Michel predicted that there would be tough discussions among leaders and their negotiators. “We feel, in preparation of this declaration, that there are still serious problems and the next hours will be important in order to assess if we are able to pull together the G20,” he said.

The Council president praised U.S. President Joe Biden for returning to the Paris accords, which his predecessor Donald Trump had repudiated. But Michel also called on the U.S. administration to be more clear about exactly what it is prepared to do. Biden has only limited backing in the U.S. Congress for some of the more painful and expensive measures needed to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

“We must go into the details now to make sure we are transparent,” Michel said, “to make sure that there is a clear, clear assessment, and transparent assessment, and we know exactly what is doing what.”

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