G20 leaders reaffirm green finance, climate commitments in Hangzhou

The Group of Twenty leaders concluded the two-day summit, hosted in Hangzhou, China, under the theme “’Towards an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world economy”. During the discussions at this year’s summit, the G20 leaders have confirmed their commitments to address the issues related to sustainable development, climate change and green finance.

In their final communiqué, the G20 leaders reaffirmed their commitments to sustainable development in the pursue of global growth, with reference to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement. As a necessary step towards the environmentally sustainable growth, they have recognized the importance of green finance and clean energy production, endorsing the G20 Voluntary Collaboration Action Plan on Energy Access, the G20 Voluntary Action Plan on Renewable Energy and the G20 Energy Efficiency Leading Programme issued by the G20 energy ministers.

Prior to the meeting, a group of insurers, representing US$1.2 trillion in assets, have called on the G20 leaders to scale-up their action against climate change and set a timeline for phasing out fossil fuels subsidies by 2020. The issue of fossil fuels subsidization has been reemerging over the years, as various stakeholders have repeatedly called for a reform of fossil fuels subsidies. The increasing need to tackle the issue became evident as the last year’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI) report found that G20 members are spending USD 452 billion on fossil fuel subsidies, which is almost four times more compared to the renewable energy subsidies.

Besides reaffirming “the commitment to rationalise and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies’, the G20 leaders did not fulfill the expectations in this respect, although China and the US, the two biggest polluters, have undergone for a first time a peer review process, reporting on each other’s fossil fuels subsidies.

The two major emmiters have also stood out from other G20 members at the opening of the summit, as the US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced their ratification of the Paris Agreement. Together accounting for 37 percent of global emissions, the US and China made a significant contribution towards reaching the double threshold of the Paris Agreement, with only 16 percent of global emissions and 29 more countries now remaining for the agreement to enter into force.

According to the communiqué, the ratification of the Paris Agreement will take place “as soon as [their] national procedures allow”, but some G20 members, such as Japan and Brazil, have already announced plans to ratify the agreement this autumn. Governments will also have the chance to deposit their instruments of ratification at a special UN event hosted by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on September 21.

 

(G20 Summit in Hangzhou, September 4, 2016. Photo credit: Flickr/OECD/Xinhua/Pang Xinglei)