As leaders from the Group of Twenty (G20) gathered for their 11th Summit in Hangzhou, China, on 4-5 September, there was no shortage of pressure from non-state actors for the Group to place climate change and related issues prominently on the agenda.
The outcomes from the Summit indicate that these issues were central to many of the discussions, but the final commitments did not go as far as some had hoped.
5 September 2016: As leaders from the Group of Twenty (G20) gathered for their 11th Summit in Hangzhou, China, on 4-5 September, there was no shortage of pressure from non-state actors for the Group to place climate change and related issues prominently on the agenda. The outcomes from the Summit indicate that these issues were central to many of the discussions, but the final commitments did not go as far as some had hoped.
Leading up to the meeting, sub-national actors, investors and insurers had issued calls to the Group for enhanced climate action. Thirty mayors of major cities in G20 member countries called on their leaders to make serious commitments and concrete plans to deliver on the Paris Agreement. Investors managing more than US$13 trillion in assets called on the G20 to double investment in clean energy by 2020, price carbon, phase out fossil-fuel subsidies and disclose climate-related financial risks.
Insurers representing US$1.2 trillion in assets under management issued their own statement asking the G20, in their communiqué, to set a clear timeline for phasing out international and domestic public finance for oil, gas and coal production by 2020, “except in extreme cases where there is clearly no other viable option for increasing energy access to the poor.” The insurers also echoed the call for real progress on phasing out fossil-fuel subsidies, starting with subsidies for exploration and coal production.
Amidst these calls, the G20 concluded the Leaders Summit with a Communiqué, which reiterates the leaders’ “commitment to sustainable development and strong and effective support and actions to address climate change” and to joining the Paris Agreement (for those that have not yet done so) as soon as respective domestic procedures allow. They also reaffirm the importance of providing means of implementation (MOI), including financial support, to developing countries for both mitigation and adaptation. The leaders devote a paragraph to scaling “green finance,” but note a number of challenges in both defining and catalyzing such finance.
The document also mentions energy extensively, including in the context of a “low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions energy future.” Calling attention to the importance of energy efficiency and conservation, the G20 leaders state that they will explore opportunities for further cooperation in this area. They endorse 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. They also launch the G20 Initiative on Supporting Industrialization in Africa and LDCs, which will include promoting investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation (IPEEC) is the coordinating agency for the G20 Energy Efficiency Leading Programme.
On fossil-fuel subsidies, the leaders restate their commitment to “rationalize and phase-out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption over the medium term, recognizing the need to support the poor.” Classifying natural gas as a “less emission-intensive fossil fuel,” they aim to increase collaboration on its extraction, transportation and processing, while minimizing environmental impacts.
Finally, the statement mentions sustainability many times, including references to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and sustainable development more generally. The leaders reaffirm their commitment to aligning their work with the 2030 Agenda, as well as the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) on financing for development.
On the margin of the G20 Summit, the BRICS (Brazil, Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa) leaders met on 4 September 2016 to exchange views on a wide range of global political, security, economic and global governance issues of importance and mutual concern.
The G20 represents 85% of global gross domestic product (GDP), 75% of world trade and approximately two-thirds of the world’s population. China currently holds the Presidency. The G20 members include 19 individual countries, namely Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK and the US – along with the EU. [G20 Leaders’ Communiqué Hangzhou Summit] [IISD RS Story on Investors’ Call to G20] [Mayors’ Open Letter to G20] [Insurers’ Call to G20] [CIF Press Release] [G20 Website] [UN Press Release, 4 September 2016] [UN Press Release, 5 September 2016] [UNEP Press Release, 5 September 2016] [BRICS Press Release] [IPEEC Press Release]