Germany to stress climate protection during G20 presidency

On Thursday (Dec. 1) Germany took over the G20 presidency from China. In a document, Germany has laid down its priorities of the 2017 G20 Summit. Accordingly, the protection of the world’s climate is high on the agenda of the G20 next year. The meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the 20 major economies will take place on July 7 and 8 in Hamburg under the motto of “Shaping an Interconnected World”.

Alongside many other challenges like the stabilization of the world economy and financial markets as well as geopolitical conflicts, terrorism and migration and refugee flows, poverty, hunger and pandemics, ongoing climate change is stressed as one of the most significant global issues, requiring close cooperation. This shall take explicitly into account the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement.

On this basis, agenda items are introduced, divided into three major blocks. First, the “building of resilience” refers foremost to international economic and financial architecture but also to international tax cooperation. Second, “improving sustainability” includes the issues of climate change, energy, health, gender and digitalization. Third, the areas of migration, food security, corruption and the intensification of the partnership with Africa are summarized within the topic of “assuming responsibility”.

With respect to climate change, beyond the ratification of the Paris Agreement, Germany urges the G20 to “make headway on ambitious implementation and to support third countries in doing so”. Moreover, climate and energy shall be linked more closely and reliable investments into climate resilience ensured. Therefore, the aim of discussions is “to foster appropriate political frameworks, financing instruments, and economic incentives for investments in climate-resilient infrastructure and to boost technological innovations”.

Climate change also plays a role in the considerations of food security and the partnership with Africa. For example, it is strived for strengthening frameworks for investments in renewable energies for Africa. Furthermore, an initiative shall be launched to support sustainable economic development in Africa which shall also reduce the risks of climate change.

According to Climate Home, also a strong focus on carbon pricing is expected. The summit in Hamburg shall also represent a multi-stakeholder exchange: a comprehensive dialogue is supposed to take place between the G20 and civil society, as it is emphasised in Germany’s priorities.

Climate change has already been a major item of the G20 during the last years. Back in 2009 at the summit in Pittsburgh, the G20 agreed to phase-out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies over the medium term. However, since then tangible progress has not been reached on this issue. Both in 2015 and 2016, the goal has been merely reaffirmed without setting a clear timeline for achievement.

This year, at the summit in Hangzhou in China, the US and China announced the ratification of the Paris Agreement. Moreover, the Communiqué emphasised the role of green finance to support environmentally sustainable growth. This has been welcomed also in light of the significant financial means required to transform economies and societies in a climate-friendly way, as the Guardian reported.

The G20 summit next year will be one of the first gatherings for incoming US president Donald Trump with world leaders. Therefore, the way how the discussions will proceed will be under the spotlight. After the US elections, Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel announced to be willing to work closely on the basis of democratic values and to address the issue of global warming and climate change. Nevertheless, Reuters expects that there will not be a major breakthrough on climate policy within the G20 in 2017.


(Image: G20 flags. Source: Downing Street, flickr)