The T20 blog is an initiative of the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) and the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW). Both institutes have been encouraged by the German government to organise the T20 process during Germany’s G20 Presidency in 2016 and 2017. The T20 organises the collaboration of global think tanks and high-level experts in order to provide analytical depth to ongoing G20 discussions and produce ideas to help the G20 on delivering concrete and sustainable policy measures. The blog intends to bring an additional dimension to the way the T20 engages with members of our own research network, the broader public, and the German G20 presidency in advance of the 2017 G20 Summit in Hamburg.
The Chairs of the Energy and Climate Task Forces of the Think20, together with Business20 and Civil20, published a Joint Statement to support a sustainable energy transition. On the occasion of the meeting of the G20 Energy and Climate Sustainability Working Groups on 22 and 23 March in Berlin, the Engagement Groups call on the G20 to step up and adopt three main provisions: First, the G20 should take the lead in implementing the Paris Agreement. Second, the G20 should drive towards carbon pricing mechanisms and agree on a time line for phasing-out fossil fuel subsidies. Third, the G20 should enable financial markets to deliver on sustainable development.
As the G20 Working Groups on Sustainability, Energy and Climate are preparing to meet later this week, it is well worth reminding ourselves of the importance of the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg for global energy governance. It is the first G20 summit since President Trump was elected on a pro-fossil fuels, climate-skeptic, and protectionist/nationalist agenda. It is also the first G20 summit since the Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016, a legally binding agreement to keep global warming ‘well below 2°C’, ratified by all G20 members except Russia and Turkey.
Unlike the statement made by the G20 Finance Ministers last year, which asked members to resist “all forms” of trade protectionism, the communique released at this weekend’s G20 meeting in Baden Baden contains no such statement, nor does it refer to a commitment to a multilateral trading system. While there is no need to rush to any judgement, as we wait to see the final communique from the G20 leader’s summit in July this year, it may be useful to reflect on some of the lessons learnt about the role of free trade.
According to consistent press reports, drafts of the communiqué prepared for the G20 Finance Minister and Central Bank Governers at their forthcoming meeting at Baden-Baden on 17 and 18 March 2017 have dropped clear statements rejecting protectionism and competitive devaluation of currencies. Apparently, generic language about keeping “an open and fair international trading system” is to be substituted. Does this matter?
One major objective of the German G20 Presidency is to make progress on realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) it enshrines. The 2030 Agenda is essential in order to tackle the most pressing domestic and global challenges the world is facing. Therefore, the 2030 Agenda should be understood as providing overarching guidance for all workstreams of the G20. By identifying collective and individual action, the G20 can contribute considerably to the implementation of the Agenda.