Reconciling environmental protection with economic growth and social justice; safeguarding ecosystems and preventing biodiversity loss; prioritising and implementing low-carbon, green growth policies in the post-pandemic recovery packages; fostering the energy transition towards renewables to reduce global emissions: these are some of the objectives of the Ministerial Meeting taking place in Naples on 22nd-23rd of July.
On these issues the Italian Presidency has made proposals to urge the international community towards more ambitious objectives.
What can the G20 really do to lay the foundations of a truly sustainable recovery? What concerted actions can be taken to build a low-carbon and climate-resilient socio-economic system?
Accounting for nearly 90% of global GDP, around two-thirds of the world population and around 80% of greenhouse gas emissions, the G20 countries are called to play a significant role in limiting global warming to 1.5°C and in finding viable solutions to fight climate change.
The Ministerial’s work will be divided into three macro-areas:
1) biodiversity, natural capital protection, and ecosystems restoration; 2) efficient use of resources and circular economy; 3) green finance.
The last issue, green finance, took centre stage at the International Conference on Climate Change, held on the 11th of July in Venice, during the G20 Finance Ministerial Meeting. G20 leaders showed growing awareness around the need to make the private sector a crucial partner as investments needed to ‘green’ the global economy exceed the public funds available by a wide margin. The Italian Presidency put the spotlight on the financial support to the green transition by establishing the Sustainable Finance Working Group (SFWG), which should also aim to engage private investors and better define the role development and regional banks can play in supporting poor and developing countries.
Although the G20 countries seem to be aligned on the target of carbon neutrality and low-carbon economy over the next decades, some divergences persist on key issues such as the carbon border adjustment mechanism: does it raise the risk of “green protectionism”? How to design it to make it compatible with international trade rules?
On these and other pressing global environmental issues, the T20 — and particularly the Task Force on Climate, Sustainable Energy and Environment coordinated by ISPI — has collected its policy recommendations in a statement submitted to the G20 Environment and Energy Ministers.
Fighting Climate Change and Re-launching the Global Economy: The Challenges for the G20
Climate change, biodiversity loss and sustainable growth are long-standing global challenges. Today they are even more crucial, given the crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, which calls for making the much-needed recovery in the global economy compatible with action to meet, exceed and improve agreed environmental targets and compatible with the planetary boundaries.
"The number of people facing hunger increased by 120-160 million in 2020, a staggering increase of 20 percent. The world was already off-track to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030 before the pandemic, with hunger on the rise and climate change impacts significantly slowing agricultural productivity growth. Building climate-resilient food systems and reducing GHG emissions from agriculture are thus urgent priorities. An important first step is a concerted G20 effort to redirect the more than US$700 billion per annum in agricultural support measures toward R&D in productivity enhancing and emission-reducing technologies, and incentives to producers and consumers to adopt sustainable and healthy practices."
Johan Swinnen, Director General, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) & Global Director, Systems Transformation, CGIAR
"Coal power generation is the single biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions. With the tailwind of renewable energies getting cheaper, technological progress, e.g. with respect to batteries, unused opportunities, e.g. in the field of energy efficiency, and political commitments to carbon neutrality, the G20 should commit to transitioning away from coal. With the painful impacts of climate change in mind, the G20 could send a signal of hope by agreeing on a concrete date for a phase out of direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies, as well as on a stop of international investments in new coal power plants."
Camilla Bausch, Scientific & Executive Director, Ecologic Institute Europe
"The unprecedented heat, wildfires, floods, and other extreme weather events in North America, Europe and most other G20 members during the past month require far more ambitious action from G20 environment, climate, and energy ministers on July 22-23 than they have ever taken before. They are unlikely to provide enough to control the climate change disaster currently at hand. But following the example of their G7 colleagues on May 21, who made 183 commitments, they should set up their leaders’ Rome summit for success by agreeing to immediately stop the loss of nature and biodiversity as essential carbon sinks, give developing countries well over $100 billion a year in climate finance from their own governments and the international financial institutions they control, stop international financing for unabated coal, and phase out its domestic use by 2030."
John Kirton, Co-Founder and Director of the G20 and the G7 Research Group, University of Toronto