To the G20 leaders: Climate Change – A Must on the G20 Agenda

Climate Change – A Must on the G20 Agenda


A few weeks ago, on the occasion of the UN Climate Summit, we sent a message to all Heads of State and Government urging them to lead and steer a committed effort to identify those actions their countries could take to tackle the irrevocable challenge of climate change. As you prepare to meet in Brisbane this weekend we reiterate this message with an ever louder voice.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sobering report, released last week, points to the urgency of climate action. No longer can anyone claim to have been caught off-guard by climate change, least of all the leaders of the world’s 20 major economies.

The G20 Summit will provide a unique opportunity to muster action at the highest political level. You will be focusing on all-important economic and financial issues, addressing global growth and the challenge of building more resilient, sustainable and balanced economies, precisely at a time when the challenges and risks confronting the global economy keep growing in complexity. Climate change is clearly one of these risks, precisely because it is global and bears heavily upon economic growth, the satisfaction of basic needs, universal access to services and even security in an increasingly integrated global economy. Climate change underpins the environment and the environment, the economy. Unless this relationship is factored into our response to global economic challenges, we will not be looking at the whole picture.

As former Heads of State and Government, conscious of the risks at hand, we call upon the G20 to ensure that global warming remains a key point in its agenda. Climate Change must be factored in every response to the global economic crisis as a lever for economic and social growth through cheaper energy and the creation of green jobs. A low carbon economy is a sustainable and strong global economy.

Improving international economic and environmental governance is an equally central issue. 2015 will be a defining year for sustainable development policy making with the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, the Post-2015 Development Agenda Summit in New York and the Climate Change COP in Paris, in December 2015. The Club de Madrid calls upon the G20 to become an innovative problem solver during these pivotal events. Taking into account that the G20 countries collectively account for nearly 85% of the gross world product, 80% of world trade and two-thirds of the world’s population, as well as the biggest share of global green house gas emissions, the world expects you to step up to the challenge and deliver tangible solutions that will make these processes true game-changers.

To this aim, the current and incoming G20 Presidencies must ensure that green growth and climate financing – an essential element in solving the climate challenge – is also on the G20 Agenda, shedding light on the fact that the goal of green growth and sustainable development lies within and beyond the borders of all countries, and is not just an imposition coming from the developed and industrialized world.

Climate Change is a global economic problem but as the latest IPCC report conveys, we have the means to limit it. Low carbon solutions exist that allow for sustainable economic and human development. What is still missing is the political will to change, and to seek an economic growth model that ensures the preservation of our planet for future generations.

Transformation into a low carbon economy will have significant multiplier effects. Measures taken in the fight against Climate Change include investments in clean and renewable energies, the development of public and sustainable transport, more efficient building stocks, the promotion of ecological agriculture, fisheries and forestry models, recycling waste and life-cycle approaches to production. Such measures will require substantial investment flows, but will also generate jobs and economic growth today, as well as high economic, social, environmental benefits in the future.

To this aim, we support the Civil Society 20 demand for the G20 to establish a Climate Finance Roadmap by 2015. This will be crucial for breaching the finance hurdle in the international climate negotiations. Likewise, the upcoming Green Climate Fund pledging Conference in Berlin will set a new course for climate change financing, as well as for international climate action.

Inaction or even slow action will be interpreted by many as a serious omission, if not outright abandonment of political responsibility, threatening the credibility of democratic institutions in their capacity to deal with major challenges. Once and for all, the world must begin the transformation towards a low-carbon economy. The G20 leaders must provide the high-level strategic leadership and political momentum essential to effect this transformation, advancing a global economic, social and environmentally balanced development through a low-carbon economy. Some of the G20 members are already taking significant steps in this direction. The United States and China have just announced a joint plan whereby the US will aim for emissions cuts of 26 – 28% below 2005 levels by 2025, and China will cap growing carbon emissions by 2030. We welcome this step, and urge you to build upon this momentum and act to ensure an ambitious, robust, fair, universal and binding agreement in Paris in 2015. We cannot afford yet another ‘business as usual’ strategy.