A call to G20 foreign ministers: It is time to tackle climate change
G20 foreign ministers meet in Bonn, Germany, on 16th and 17th February 2017. The chair of this year’s G20, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, emphasized that mastering and shaping the global challenges of our age is a common goal of the G20, and that the success of the G20 leaders’ summit, to be held in Hamburg, Germany, on 7th and 8th of July, depends on progress towards this objective.
Given the essential role of the G20 and its members in key global challenges, the meeting of the G20 foreign ministers is an important opportunity to work together on solutions to key global challenges that affect the lives of billions of people on this planet; often those challenges impact most on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, who are more often than not women and girls.
The timing could not be more critical. In 2015 two historic milestones and successes for multilateralism were achieved: The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change sent a promise to the world that governments have recognized and understood the severity of global challenges and intent to tackle them in cooperation, while recognising different roles and responsibilities. In light of the Agenda 2030 and its motto “leave no one behind”, the focus on women economic empowerment on the G20 Agenda is very important. But without women equality there cannot be sustainable economic empowerment.
Developments since 2015 have underlined even more strongly the need for concerted and urgent action.
With regard to climate change, 2016 was the hottest year on record, in a clear and undisputable warming trend mainly caused by humankind’s release of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels with the resulting impacts of climate change severely undermining people’s livelihoods and threatening the very existence of entire cultures and countries. The G20 countries should a) take additional near-term emission reduction actions and deliver by 2018 long-term zero-emission sustainable development strategies in line with the 1.5C limit, and b) agree on strong actions to strengthen climate and disaster risk finance frameworks for the poorest and most marginalized populations in climate-vulnerable developing countries in face of growing severe climate impacts.
The world is now witnessing the highest levels of displacement and refugees on record: an unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world forced from home, among them nearly 21.3 million refugees, over half under the age of 18. At the UN High-Level Refugee and Migration meeting on September 19, 2016, 193 states agreed to call for a “more equitable sharing of the burden and responsibility for hosting and supporting the world’s refugees,” the development of a “comprehensive refugee response […] for each situation involving large movements of refugees,” and “work toward the adoption in 2018 of a Global Compact on refugees.” G20 countries should address this by a) Committing to accept their fair share of refugees, thereby contributing to the collective resettlement of at least 10% of all refugees globally and providing safe and legal routes for people to seek refuge and claim asylum. Furthermore, they should allocate increased needs based funding to support local communities and refugees in host countries in the global south, with specific attention to social cohesion, livelihoods and clarifying the legal status of refugees in line with the UN Refugee Convention.
These crises transcend national boundaries and are interlinked. Nationalism and isolationism cannot be the solution. Multilateral strategies and responses are required. Thus the G20 meeting in Bonn is an important opportunity to reaffirm the government’s commitment and pursuit of concrete measures to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and to tackle current humanitarian crisis in a cooperative multilateral approach, for the benefit of all, but especially of the poorest and most vulnerable people on this planet.