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?
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.
Climate change will impact all human societies, and especially the poor. As acknowledged by the G20 agriculture ministers’ declaration in January 2017, the agricultural sector is crucial for food security, climate change adaption, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, managing water scarcity and human migration, and achieving peace and stability. Agricultural trade will play an important role.
The new U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to depart from the climate agenda of his predecessor Barack Obama and introduce a new energy policy. This expected policy shift, if realized, will deal a blow to the G20’s commitments on energy and climate. As a forum of 19 emerging and industrialized markets, plus the European Union, the G20 is responsible for 82% of global emissions related to the energy sector. The G20 countries thus have a key role to play in curtailing global emissions and implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change.