How Long-Term Visions for Climate Can Advance the G20 Economic Agenda

by Taryn Fransen and James Vener - June 13, 2019

Ministers from the world's largest and most powerful nations will convene later this week in Nagano, Japan for the G20 Ministerial Meeting on Energy Transitions and Global Environment for Sustainable Growth. The G20 has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to strong and sustainable growth, recognizing that "a strong economy and a healthy planet are mutually reinforcing." Without climate action, we face mounting risks to our economies and to human lives of natural disasters like floods, droughts and extreme storm events. The coming year presents a unique opportunity to deliver on this commitment by advancing climate action under the Paris Agreement on climate change. To do so, it's critical that G20 countries take two actions: Developing long-term emissions-reduction strategies through 2050, ideally targeting net zero emissions, and enhancing their current national climate plans, known as "Nationally Determined Contributions" (NDCs).

For the past two years, at the invitation of the Argentine and Japanese G20 presidencies, UNDP and WRI have together advised the G20 Climate and Sustainability Working Group on the key role that long-term strategies and NDCs can play to advance the G20 agenda and address climate change. Six G20 countrieshave already submitted long-term strategies, and more are on their way. When Japan submits the strategy it published earlier this week, it will bring the total to seven. Notably, the European Council will vote later this month on a proposal to go climate-neutral by 2050 and consider whether it can commit to enhancing its NDC in 2020. Likewise, the United Kingdom has committed to pass legislation calling for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Considering the accelerating impacts of the current climate crisis, we must continue to build on this progress. Here are key things to know from our report launched today:

Climate Action Is Core to the G20 Agenda on Economic Growth

Without stemming rising temperatures, sustainable growth cannot be achieved. The latest science finds that if we fail to limit warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F), the impact of climate change will dramatically increase. This means droughts, floods, sea level rise, extreme heat and extreme weather events will increase in intensity and frequency, putting in peril economic growth, not to mention human lives. In the last year alone, we have seen record-breaking heatwaves and wildfires around the world, and devastating storms wrecking communities and stealing lives. This will only get worse if we do not tackle climate change.

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