Photos: Climate crisis looms as G20 leaders prepare to meet in India

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By Webdesk

Rekha Devi, a 30-year-old farm worker, is dreading the moment when her family will be ordered to leave their makeshift tent atop a half-built overpass and return to the Yamuna river floodplains below, where their hut and small field of vegetables are still under water from July’s devastating rains.

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

Their temporary perch is less than 10km (6 miles) from the site of this weekend’s Group of 20 (G20) summit at which leaders will have a final chance to decide how to better protect people like Devi when the next extreme weather event batters the city.

But she expects little – except eviction as part of security measures for the meetings.

“If the leaders lived here, would they have taken their kids into the deep waters to live? Right now, no one is doing anything for us. We will see when they do something,” she said.

Despite cyclones, extreme rains, landslides and extreme heat affecting India and the rest of the world in the last few months, climate ministers of the G20 nations – the world’s largest economies and producers of most of its greenhouse gases – ended their last meeting for the year in July without resolving major disagreements on climate policies.

Energy experts said key bottlenecks include nations failing to agree on proposals to cap global emissions of carbon dioxide by 2025, set up a carbon border tax, scale up renewable energy, phase down all fossil fuels and increase aid to nations hit hardest by climate change.

Shayak Sengupta, an energy and research fellow at the Observer Research Foundation America, conceded there were no broad agreements on reducing fossil fuels or increasing renewables.

“However, I was encouraged to see that there were initiatives on specific sectors like green hydrogen, critical minerals, energy efficiency, finance for the energy transition and energy access,” said Sengupta, based in Washington.

The G20’s top leaders will have a last chance to send a strong message of climate action at their meetings on Saturday and Sunday.

The hope is they “will be able to come out with an ambitious agenda that can not only show that the G20 can act but will also bolster confidence going into the global climate meetings in December,” said Madhura Joshi, energy analyst at the climate think tank E3G.

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