The world is in the midst of global challenges. This is particularly true for the current COVID-19 pandemic and the global climate and biodiversity crises. Both represent an unprecedented global vulnerability experience and urgently require global coordination and local actions to be addressed effectively. The world is experiencing a range of long-standing challenges simultaneously: the widening gap between the rich and the poor, inequality, health, economic recession with huge loss of jobs, water and food insecurity, the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. These are unequivocally linked to human activity as our pattern of human life, production and consumption has put the planet as we know it at risk, and with it the lives of billions of people.
However, a Paris-aligned future comes with challenges and opportunities. Many sectors will need to undertake a profound transformation. Ranging from the agri-food system to energy, transport, and infrastructure at large, every sector is likely to undergo tremendous changes.
The group of the G20 countries represents two-thirds of the world population and generates almost 90% of global GDP and approximately 80% of the world’s annual greenhouse gas emissions. This means that the G20 is crucial for limiting global warming to below 1.5°C in line with the latest scientific research available. This includes ensuring sustainable and climate-resilient economic recovery in a post-COVID world which requires concrete action within the G20, but also support of developing countries through finance, technology transfer, and capacity building.
We are facing an unprecedented confluence of crises that requires the strongest levels of multilateral cooperation and international solidarity. The G20 needs to live up to its role and ensure that the health, climate, nature and social agendas move forward together with the breadth and urgency required, in the spirit of “leaving no one behind”.
The B20, C20, L20, T20, W20 and F20 call upon the G20 countries to adopt the following provisions to climate change, thereby promoting sustainable development which they have committed to achieve by 2030 and which encompasses the environmental, economic and social dimensions through bold climate action and collaboration. Democratic participation of citizens and communities – and social cohesion through social dialogue and fair industrial relations between social partners – are among the priority tools for achieving an equitable society, respectful of the planet’s boundaries and human rights.
Climate commitments are still highly insufficient in terms of objectives of the Paris Agreement and are lagging behind regarding scientific evidence to stay below 1.5°C. To halt and reverse today’s catastrophic loss of nature and climate impacts, economy-wide emissions reductions should be urgently conducted in parallel to protecting, restoring and sustainably managing biodiversity. The UN Secretary-General called for the phase-out of coal by 2030 in industrialised countries, and by 2040 at the latest in developing countries. We urge the G20, and particularly the industrialised high-emission countries, to meet their emission reduction targets as well as their financial commitments to developing countries. G20 should adopt concrete pathways with short term milestones, to contribute their respective fair share of domestic emissions reductions to support the achievement of the collective goal to halve global emissions below 2010 levels by 2030. Likewise, all governments should strengthen their contribution to the Paris Agreement and reduce emissions to net-zero globally by 2050 compatible with biodiversity conservation, without jeopardising the ecological stability and food production capacity of both land and sea.
A successful transition of the energy sector to renewable sources requires businesses to continue accelerating innovations and investments in climate-friendly infrastructure, which can have economic lifetimes of several decades. To mobilise private-sector investments, we ask G20 leaders to provide an unambiguous long-term direction in the energy sector in line with international climate-related commitments, first and foremost the Paris Agreement. Many of the raw materials necessary for the transition are produced in a manner that causes destruction of ecosystems and exploitation of workers (often young boys and girls). We need to ensure that raw materials necessary for the transition are produced in a way that preserves, or ideally enhances, biodiverse ecosystems, avoiding exploitation of workers, including child labour. Stronger NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) are needed, including just transition measures and policies with the involvement of civil society, social partners and communities.
Adaptation and Resilience
The G20 should champion both climate and gender justice and minimise inequalities by protecting communities systemically vulnerable to climate change from migration and security risks. The climate crisis affects regions, communities, and social groups on different scales. Those communities suffering the most from the effects of climate change are primarily situated in the Global South. The G20 should collectively identify key actions to deliver an equitable and sustainable recovery from the pandemic and address the compound climate-security risks. Climate adaptation urgently needs to be considered in recovery plans. Using the natural properties of ecosystems, such ecosystem-based approaches can have a decisive impact on our communities and our planet if implemented well. However, these adaptive measures are only one side of the coin: with the climate extremes exceeding the adaptive capacity of communities and ecosystems, we need firm reaffirmation from the G20 to help vulnerable countries address loss and damage whilst considering the pivotal role of science as a partner in this process. All the people of the world represented in these engagement groups count on the G20 to take bold steps and secure a stronger, brighter climate-safe future using weather and climate science knowledge to bring about changes in policies, investments and practices.
Making decarbonisation plans of financial institutions mandatory has to be one of the highest-ranking priorities when it comes to decarbonising the finance sector. This would put concrete actions behind the concept of ‘shifting the trillions’ and contribute to closing the Climate Finance Gap between the current trajectory and the goals of the Paris Agreement. It is essential to deliver on the promises to mobilise at least
$100B/yr annually by 2025 in climate finance with a 50/50 split between support for mitigation and adaptation, by COP26. Each country contributes based on its fair share. Clear signs would also be to mainstream carbon pricing and measures suggested by the G20 Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), including mandatory disclosure of climate risks by enterprises in their reporting/balance sheets. Also, climate-related impacts on and by a company can be both highly relevant for investors and therefore require disclosure (double materiality). The International Climate Finance Plan introduced at the Climate Leaders Summit hosted by the United States is a good start. This also includes ‘Ending International Official Financing for Carbon-Intensive Fossil Fuel Based Energy’, which should include Natural Gas and be reaffirmed by the G7 and the G20.
Provide debt relief, financial and capacity support to highly indebted low-middle income countries to enable their economic recovery and development. This includes a multilateral debt restructuring mechanism that is timely, transparent, independent, and comprehensive in scope and that is aimed at reducing debt burden and servicing costs. Bilateral as well as multilateral debt relief should be managed to enable especially low-middle income countries to reduce their external debt while investing in adaptation and mitigation. The G20 should be united in meeting the Paris goals: effective change can only be reached by a firm commitment, the financial one included, to achieve a resilient, sustainable, and greener transition by all parties.
We ask the G20 to actively enhance decarbonisation through budgetary instruments (including carbon pricing, tax incentives and subsidies) and to implement a rapid phasing-out of (in)direct fossil-fuel subsidies and any public financial support for fossil fuels, particularly new coal power plants and mining facilities, as well as through repurposing existing agricultural subsidies to provide incentives for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production and making food systems climate resilient. As the world is heading for decarbonisation, it is key for G20 nations to set clear definition, robust standard and taxonomy, to drive the industry towards a climate-neutral transition in an effective, efficient and just manner.
Youth and Gender
The Paris Agreement underpins a global economic transformation needed to both limit climate change and foster human and planetary well-being. Women are most frequently first responders to crises, including health, food and water security. Women have also proven to be agents of change in the areas of resource sustainability and driving forces behind the shift to a wellbeing economy. It is essential that G20 members rely upon the ability that lies with women leaders and experts, including grass-roots women’s organisations. Under the current context of global disruption by COVID-19, we urge G20 leaders to uphold intergenerational justice and build back better and greener. As the generation being most affected by the climate crisis, we stress the urgency of addressing the unfolding climate catastrophe to create a sustainable future for the generations to come and enhance people’s wellbeing across the globe.
We encourage gender equality and diversity in the energy sector and initiatives that promote a more inclusive and equitable energy future. Also we encourage taking into account the UNFCCC Gender Action Plan and making the best use of recovery plans to mobilize finance, leverage and de-risk private sector investments at scale, also through the promotion of public private blending of financing tools and public-private partnerships (PPPs), with a view to simultaneously spurring economic growth, creating jobs, empowering women, youth and marginalized groups, and harnessing technology to reduce emissions and enhance climate resilience. We deem essential to enhance the coordination and cooperation between national, regional, and local authorities as well as to promote public private partnerships to accelerate an inclusive and clean energy transitions and implementation of NbS or Ecosystem based Approaches within and around cities, and to support the active involvement of all relevant non-state actors, including Indigenous People, local communities, academia, women, youth and underrepresented communities. In particular, we underline that behavioural change, public acceptance, indigenous and local knowledge are key factors in designing sustainable energy and climate solutions.
Just transition towards climate-neutral economies
The level of transformation our societies need is one that we can plan. G20 countries should support the transition in a way that no one is left behind. For that, just transition plans require the involvement of the financial system and need to be translated into robust policies in order to ensure that communities and work, with its ethical value and its qualitative aspects, from the respect of contracts to the development of people, are central to the policies for transitions and should be part of the decision-making process and have the assurances/tools that the future comes with better, more decent, and fair conditions in a new sustainable economy. Our vision of both a climate-neutral and resource-efficient economy that respects the planetary boundaries and intergenerational justice includes decent employment, growth, and social stability.
Before 2030 just transition plans are needed in every country with decent and quality jobs. We look to the G20 leaders to provide leadership towards implementing the Paris Agreement, by setting ambitious decarbonisation targets in NDCs, investing in areas that support efforts to decarbonise, and ensuring all investments are aligned with human rights and meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Labour and human rights, the rights of indigenous people and local communities, gender equity and intra and intergenerational equity should be taken into consideration in the context of COP 26 negotiations.
Only a collaborative, systemic and forward-looking approach can steer us through this unprecedented crisis. Given the fact that the investments deemed necessary for the green and just transition exceed by a wide margin the public funds available, the private sector is uniquely placed to play a pivotal partner role in this endeavour.
Climate and Biodiversity
Focus on improving and restoring ecosystem integrity and stability while ensuring climate resilient development pathways, unfold their full capacity on positive social and economic outcomes for nature, climate, and communities.
We call upon the G20 to reaffirm the principle that the conservation of the most carbon-dense and biodiversity-rich natural ecosystems remains a key priority for achieving both climate and biodiversity goals, as well as for reducing risks of future zoonotic pandemics. Population growth, rapid urbanisation, environmental degradation including climate change, and the misuse of antimicrobials resulting in drug-resistant strains of infectious diseases like multi-drug resistant TB are disrupting the equilibrium of the microbial world. The ‘One Health’ approach must be strategically streamlined to improve the health of communities and their environment to include pandemic prevention and address health impacts related to water and food scarcity and poor diets. These have to be integrated into preparedness, response, recovery and rehabilitation. The G20 should send a strong political message on the need for cooperation between the UNFCCC and the CBD to look for integrated solutions for both climate change and biodiversity loss, as well as enhanced ambitions for NDCs and CBD 2030 targets. It is key to protect at least 30% of all land and water by 2030. Further policy to improve and restore our ecosystem could be green conditionalities to corporate bailouts in sectors with a high impact on nature. The application of spatial planning across land- and seascapes could also help to harmonise nature protection with sustainable economic development.
Recovery Plans following the COVID-19 pandemic, in the G20 countries and beyond, are an opportunity to take action against climate change and rebuild more inclusive, equitable, resilient and sustainable societies. We call upon the G20 to integrate climate action into all funded policies and programs, including by ensuring consistency between the Recovery Plans, the Paris Climate Agreement and the UN 2030 agenda. Areas where investment in new technologies linked to mitigation and adaptation to climate change include energy efficiency, production, distribution and storage of renewable energy, electrification of consumption, sustainable mobility, sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources, transition to the circular economy, prevention and control of pollution and protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems. For the definition of Recovery Plans and Just Transition plans and measures, transparent participatory processes are needed, from the design to the monitoring and evaluation.