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As G20 leaders prepare to meet in recently flooded New Delhi, climate policy issues remain unresolved

NEW DELHI — Rekha Devi, a 30-year-old farm worker, dreads the moment when her family will be ordered to leave their makeshift tent on a half-completed flyover and return to the Yamuna River floodplains where their hut and a small vegetable patch stands due still under water after the devastating rains in July.

Devi, her husband and their six children fled when record monsoon rains triggered floods that killed more than 100 people in northern India, displaced thousands and swamped much of the capital New Delhi. The waters stole her husband’s work tools, the children’s school uniforms and books, and everything else the family had accumulated over 20 years, forcing her and thousands of others into makeshift relief camps.

Their temporary headquarters are less than 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the site of this weekend’s G20 summit, where leaders will have one last chance to decide how to better protect people like Devi if the next extreme weather event hits the city. But she expects little — other than an eviction as part of security measures for the meetings.

“If the leaders lived here, would they have taken their children to live in the deep waters? Nobody is doing anything for us at the moment. We’ll see when they do something,” she said.

Despite hurricanes, extreme rainfall, landslides and extreme heat that have ravaged India and the rest of the world in recent months, climate ministers from the G20 countries – the world’s largest economies and producers of most greenhouse gases – have concluded their last meeting of year in July without resolving major disagreements over climate policy.

Energy experts said one of the biggest bottlenecks is countries not agreeing to proposals to limit global carbon emissions by 2025, introduce a carbon border tax, expand renewable energy, phase out all fossil fuels and increase aid to… the countries most affected by climate change could agree.

Observer Research Foundation America Energy and Research Fellow Shayak Sengupta acknowledged that there are no comprehensive agreements on reducing fossil fuels or expanding renewable energy.

“However, I was encouraged to see that there were initiatives on specific sectors such as green hydrogen, critical minerals, energy efficiency, energy transition financing and energy access,” said Washington-based Sengupta.

G20 leaders will have one last chance to send a strong climate message when they meet on Saturday and Sunday.

The hope is that they can “present an ambitious agenda that will not only show the G20’s capacity to act, but will also boost confidence ahead of December’s global climate meetings,” said Madhura Joshi, an energy analyst at Climate Think Panzer E3G.

The annual global climate conference COP28 will take place in Dubai this year. Joshi said she was optimistic because “the full write-off of the world’s 20 largest economies would mean there would be more concerns for the world as a whole.”

Experts see one reason why the talks between the climate ministers have not led to concrete results is that the necessary decisions are more extensive than these ministers can make.

“We have to ask whether climate ministers have the mandate to now negotiate these big issues like climate and energy,” said Luca Bergamaschi, CEO of Italian climate think tank Ecco Climate and former head of the Italian government’s climate team.

Beramaschi said India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose country holds the G20 presidency until November, has a chance to rise as a global leader and “facilitator of international engagement between the West and the rest of the world,” particularly on climate and energy negotiations .

“We need leaders who say we have to do more,” Beramaschi said. “More on moving away from fossil fuels and expanding to renewable energy, I think that’s a really strong signal.”

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Arasu reported from Bengaluru, India.

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The Associated Press’s climate and environmental reporting is supported by several private foundations. For more information on AP’s climate initiative, click here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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