Like it or not, the G20 is an important political space where leaders of the top 20 economies of our world — who account for about 3/4 of global emissions — make political statements that attract a lot of attention, particularly from the business and finance communities. ECO would like to acknowledge the great job that Germany did this year in making the climate crisis, and the implementation of the Paris Agreement, a core issue of its G20 presidency. Of course, this upset one country in particular (you can imagine who). But after very tough negotiations in Hamburg, agreement was reached and there were several climate related outcomes.
As far as ECO knows the next G20 presidency: Argentina, is committed to ensuring that addressing the global climate crisis stays on the G20 agenda. At least that is what Chief of Cabinet and President Macri stated publicly several times during the Hamburg summit including in the middle of a concert next to Shakira and Prime Minister Trudeau. No doubt about it, Argentina is in a great position to push for an ambitious G20 agenda on climate and energy: it was one of the first countries to update its NDC and is experiencing the benefits of renewable energy deployment like never before.
Unfortunately, that was not the impression a number of negotiators and civil society organizations got during last week’s side event with the Argentinean G20 Sherpa Villagra Delgado. Being rather evasive, he left ECO with the sense that climate was just another issue amongst many, and that the climate agenda was not really confirmed. Ambassador Villagra Delgado did mention that Argentina plans to make infrastructure development and financing a key priority. But how can countries develop truly sustainable infrastructure if not by making sure it is climate resilient, fit for the low carbon transition, and in line with the SDGs? ECO worries it may find the G20 sliding back into the trenches of pitching development against sustainability, instead of supporting and embracing the many opportunities of a Paris-compatible future.
With only three weeks remaining before Argentina officially takes on the G20 Presidency, ECO is very discouraged by this seeming lack of a clear climate focus, particularly coming from a country whose economy has so much to gain from sustainable development.
We all know 2018 is a crucial year for climate and that all G20 countries should (and will, right?) support the incoming presidency to ensure next year’s G20 boosts climate action in the lead-up to COP24. In the meantime, Argentina: the floor is yours.