World leaders met in New Delhi, India’s capital, on September 9-10 this year for the G20 Summit, an annual climate change conference organized by the United Nations (UN) as explained by the Council on Foreign Relations. This year’s theme, “One Earth, One Family, One Future”, revolved around the value of humans, animals, and plants, and their connection to Earth and the climate, as reported in SDG Knowledge Hub, a project by the International Institute for Sustainable Development.
The G20 Summit is composed of 20 countries with high economic output or European Union (EU) membership, reports PBS News Hour. While many Western powers such as the United States, France, and the United Kingdom attended, other countries involved in climate change issues, such as Indonesia and Saudi Arabia were there as well.
This two-day meeting involved some of the world’s most prominent leaders, including UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. In a press conference General Guterres comments on the theme and its importance to focus on our global community when it comes to the tackle against climate change, according to the UN “[I]f we are indeed one global family – we today resemble a rather dysfunctional one,” Guterres said. “Divisions are growing, tensions are flaring up, and trust is eroding – which together raise the specter of fragmentation, and ultimately, confrontation.” Not only does Guterres mention the need for unity within the world, he mentions the need for a reform of the United Nations Security Council in order to make the organization as a whole function in the ways necessary for combatting climate change.
Faces such as French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also appeared at the G20 conference, according to Reuters. One specific person missing was Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to Aljazeera, the nations present agreed that states cannot obtain territory by force, specifically mentioning the people of Ukraine. That being said, there wasn’t any direct criticism of Russia in the comments made about the war. These statements stark in contrast to last year, where Russia was directly condemned for the war and leaders demanded withdrawal from Ukraine. Despite the absence from a global superpower, much was done regarding the issue at hand- climate change and further representation in the committee.
A win for diversity was made during these two days, as mention by Reuters. The G20 countries formally accepted the African Union to the bloc. This was impactful for African countries, who typically do not get representation in these kinds of conferences, yet are affected most by the effects of climate change. Until this year South Africa was the only African member of G20, now the 55-member Union is a permanent member, on par with the membership of the European Union. The addition of the African Union not only adds diversity to this summit but also further equalizes power within the committee, where the G7 countries have long had a more dominant role until now.
United States President Joe Biden was also in attendance. Although there are no details about financials or a timeline, the Biden administration is looking to counter China’s Belt and Road global infrastructure plan with a plan proposed by Washington to be an alternative partner and investor for the developing countries in the G20 group, explains Reuters. This proposition involves laying railroad lines in the Middle East and a port in India.
The European Parliament Think Tank mentioned that the G20 leaders have also agreed to triple renewable energy capacity globally by 2030, as well as accept the importance to phase-down the use and manufacturing of coal power. Despite this, they have not provided any plans to fix existing policies to achieve their new targets. It has been calculated that it will cost $4 trillion a year to pay for the transition to green energy, a pathway to get these funds has yet to be laid out.
While developments were made at this year’s G20 Summit, the consequences of these decisions haven’t shown themselves yet. The next UN climate summit will be COP28, a two-week affair in November through December which will be held in the United Arab Emirates.
Image courtesy of Canadian Affairs, Official White House Phone by Adam Schultz