G20 holds key to our safe climate future
Tony de Brum, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and
Maria de Fátima Monteiro Jardim, Minister of Environment of Angola and Chair of the Least Developed Countries
As G20 leaders gather in Antalya, they will have on their minds what promises to be the most important global meeting of a generation – the Paris Climate Change Conference.
In 2008, G20 leaders met in Washington in a bid to bring the global economy back from the brink of collapse. The consequences of failure in Paris would be no less dire, and the impacts surely more tragic. A world of runaway climate change is a nightmare that no world leader should ever leave for the next generations.
After a year of diplomatic momentum-building since Ban Ki-moon held his own Climate Summit in September 2014, the prospects for a new global climate change agreement in Paris seem good. We have seen unprecedented engagement in the climate fight from all sectors of the global economy and at every level of government.
Every company, every city and every community now accepts the need to act, and more than half of the nations of the world, including all G20 members, have presented their proposed emission reduction targets to be inscribed in the Paris Agreement – these will be implemented from 2020 onwards.
While momentum is good and we have a critical mass of new targets on the table, there is no escaping the fact that these targets are still falling way short – we are still on track for around 3 to 3.5?C of warming by the end of the century.
This would not only spell the end for some of the world’s low-lying island states and vulnerable coastal states, and least developed countries, but it would also unleash the biggest ever breakdown in global security, and gradually drag the world economy into a downward spiral from which recovery would be very difficult, if not impossible.
Getting back on track to limiting warming to below 2?C, or our preferred and much safer below 1.5?C goal, must be the first challenge we tackle in Paris. To do so, the Paris Agreement must be designed for “ambition”.
First, the Paris Agreement needs to do more than simply list countries’ targets and recall general aspirations. Building on the G7 Summit in June, it needs to signal a break with the past, and set course for a clean, green energy future.