V20 Chair Appeal to German G20 Presidency on Climate Change
Opinion Editorial by H.E. Mr. Abraham Tekeste, Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation of Ethiopia, for the Frankfurter Rundschau
After the paradigm-shifting year of 2015, with the Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement, it is now time for the G20 economies to put their money and action where their mouth is: to limit global warming to 1.5° requires immediate action everywhere. The survival of the most vulnerable countries depends on it.
As a group of 43 vulnerable countries, the V20 under the leadership of Ethiopia is willing to act at home, reducing emissions, investing in resilience and putting a price on carbon. However, we also need the world’s largest and most powerful countries to continue their effort. They can do that by scaling up financial support and improving the accessibility and predictability of international finance for both climate change activities and development assistance. Developed countries’ financial contributions must significantly increase to Funds that are established to support the concrete adaptation and urgent and immediate needs of developing countries such as the Least Developed Countries Funds (LDCF) and the Adaptation Fund, which are focusing on the most vulnerable, and the Green Climate Fund. This would better equip the developing countries who face financial hurdles to implement their NDCs and countries to collectively achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The German G7 presidency has shown great leadership and played a vital role in putting the need to decarbonize the global economy on the global agenda. Now all eyes rest on Angela Merkel who can show the same leadership during the upcoming German G20 presidency.
For vulnerable countries, the 1.5°C limit is a matter of survival. To hold global warming below that threshold, immediate and swift action by the major polluters is needed. It is of utmost importance that the G20 nations, who are responsible for approximately 85% of global CO2 emissions, develop long-term low greenhouse gas development strategies, as soon as possible, to guide a shift of investment from brown to green and avoid a dangerous and costly lock-in. With its own 2050 climate protection plan, Germany has shown the world how such strategies could be developed. Even if the plan will need further strengthening to be compatible with the 1.5°C limit, it provides an important signal to the global community and to companies and investors that Germany is serious about the path to decarbonization. Next year, Chancellor Merkel now should convince as many of her G20 partners as possible to develop and submit their national 2050 strategies by 2018, in order to inform the global stock take and enable a lifting up of ambitions.
Similarly, businesses need to develop decarbonisation plans, and should undergo stress-testing showing how well they are equipped for a 1.5°-world, and the policies leading towards it.
Infrastructure is vital for sustainable development. There is a huge gap in financing infrastructure in both developing and industrialized countries. The world’s energy and transport infrastructure, but also buildings sector has to be developed in a sustainable, climate resilient manner in order to minimize damages from climate change and provide important services to all people without adding more and more emissions. Investments by international financial institutions and multilateral development banks need to be aligned with the 1.5°C limit – criteria need to be developed and applied that fosters green investments and also stops public money from flowing into old technologies that harm the climate when green opportunities for growth and resilience are available.
It is hard for green technologies to compete in a marketplace where climate finance is marginal and subsidies for fossil fuels are hundreds of billions of dollars a year. We need to change that for the green economy to thrive. Carbon pricing mechanisms are one effective way of shifting the market dynamics to work for the green economy by forcing market actors to account for climate externalities not currently affecting corporate decision-making. Such tools could provide revenues that could be used for investments in low-carbon, climate resilient infrastructure both domestically and, for example through a share-of-proceeds approach for financing much-needed sustainable infrastructure in developing countries. However, the vulnerable countries are going to require significant assistance in capacity and institution building support in order to effectively put in place such market-based tools. It would also make great sense to invest in our South South cooperation so that those vulnerable developing countries that are already making heawdway on such topics, can help the others among us who are just starting out with such initiatives. The 20 billion yuan ($3 billion US) contribution of China to support South South to support climate change adaptation and low carbon efforts of developing countries is a vital contribution that other G20 economies can help to complement.
Germany has already announced there will be a particular focus on Africa during its presidency. This is welcome as our continent is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. We would like to offer a partnership to Germany and its G20 countries to help insure the most vulnerable countries against climate change and to rapidly develop renewable energy in vulnerable countries around the world and across Africa. Under its G7 presidency, Germany has announced support both for climate insurance mechanisms (InsuResilience) and for renewable energy in Africa. The G20 presidency is an opportunity to further develop and grow theses initiatives and make sure they benefit first and foremost the poorest and most vulnerable. We stand ready to discuss these issues with the G20 presidency just as we are moving to invest the resources at our disposal towards advancing climate-resilient and renewable-powered development.
We would encourage the German G20 presidency to start a formal G20-V20 dialogue where we can work on these pressing issues together in the spirit of cooperation.