At the closure of the G20 summit last week, the final declaration stated that the Paris Agreement is irreversible, a position supported by 19 of the countries in attendance. Following much deliberation, wording on fossil fuels was incorporated in the communiqué by the United States. However, the overarching message was a strong global commitment to emission reductions and renewables. The US, which plans to pull out of the Paris Agreement, will cease to work towards its predetermined contributions and has said it will “endeavour to work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently and help deploy renewable and other clean energy sources”. Analysts have predicted that the US may well be able to meet the 2025 target of a 26-28% reduction in emissions, even without the support of government policy. A recent report from Morgan Stanley predicts that the economics of renewables will be the driver to the market in the US, with innovations in technology making wind generation more efficient. With regard to solar generation, an oversupply of panels is also reducing costs. Other analysts have suggested that existing and planned policies in individual states could help to meet the original 2025 emissions target. However, not much attention has been given to longer-term US targets, which could be more difficult to meet without government support.
In the UK, emission reductions have been successful historically, but future targets will be more difficult to meet without clear government policy. Existing reductions have predominantly been met by the power sector, and direction is needed for heat, transport, and carbon capture and storage. Clarity on renewables is also required because subsidies have been subject to cuts since 2015 in an attempt to control the costs being passed through to consumers’ energy bills. Expectations are that the government will publish a Clean Growth strategy in the autumn, to address gaps in policy. This will now be underpinned by the G20 commitment to the Paris Agreement and, therefore, to the nationally determined targets.