The German Presidency of the Group of Twenty (G20) in 2017 takes place under conditions of uncertainty with regards to the outlook for both the global economy and international policy cooperation. Almost a decade after the Group was launched in its current iteration, G20 economies continue to struggle with the factors that led to the Great Recession of 2007 and losses that resulted from shortcomings in domestic and international governance are still to be recovered.
On Tuesday 28 March, President Trump unravelled his predecessor’s climate policy by signing an executive order that, amongst other things, undoes restrictions on emissions by coal-fired power plants. Obama’s climate measures would have resulted in an estimated 26-28 percent reduction of US emissions by 2025. Many now ask about the global consequences of US withdrawal from climate protection; will this be the end of the world’s quest for a low-carbon and climate resilient future?
At first glance, the outlook for climate policy in 2017 does not look too promising: Donald Trump has become the president of the US and presented an energy plan that does not even mention climate change but is based on shale gas and coal. In addition, Europe’s often claimed leadership in climate policy is in jeopardy, with Brexit and the potential outcome of elections in the Netherlands and France, where populism and EU scepticism is on the rise.
However, on reflection, this year could be a good starting point for the achievement of new milestones in climate protection. Part and parcel of this less pessimistic outlook are the aims of the G20 and its German presidency. Under the leadership of Angela Merkel there is a good chance for a push towards carbon pricing. This would allow the world to pursue a growth path that protects the environment at the same time as lifting people out of poverty.