G20 environment ministers meet in Italy amid floods, fires

International

German undersecretary of environment Jochen Flasbarth, left, is welcomed by Italian Minister for Ecological Transition Roberto Cingolani as he arrives at Palazzo Reale in Naples, Italy, Thursday, July 22, 2021, to take part in a G20 meeting on environment, climate and energy. (AP Photo/Salvatore Laporta)

NAPLES, Italy (AP) — With forest fires raging in the U.S. and Russia and floods devastating parts of Western Europe, environment and energy ministers from the Group of 20 industrialized countries gathered Thursday for two days of talks ahead of November’s crucial climate change conference.

Host Italy is hoping the Naples talks will help spur ambitious goals to be adopted at the COP26 conference in Glasgow, Scotland, which organizers have said represents “the world’s last best chance to get runaway climate change under control.”

The Naples meetings Thursday and Friday are focusing on three main themes: biodiversity and protection of oceans; promoting circular economies, particularly in the fashion and textile sectors; and realigning the financial system to promote sustainable development.

A communique and press conference are expected Friday.

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry was attending the Naples summit and had an early meeting with the host, Italian environment Minister Roberto Cingolani.

Earlier this week during a London stop in his European tour, Kerry called on China to join America in urgently cutting greenhouse gas emissions and described the international alliances that rebuilt Europe after World War II as a model for fighting climate change.

The meetings are taking place as forest fires rip through huge swaths of parched land in the western U.S. and Siberia, and as Germany and Belgium continue the cleanup effort after torrents of floods ripped through several small towns, killing more than 200 people. Scientists say that while it’s hard to attribute specific storms to climate change, extreme weather of the kind that caused the flash floods will become more severe and frequent in a warming world.

While many countries have pledged to eliminate net carbon emissions by 2050, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says emissions must be cut by at least 40% by the end of the decade to keep temperatures in check.

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