By Paul Davies and Michael Green

On 8 July 2017, the G20 summit in Hamburg issued a Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth (the Plan). The Plan reaffirms the commitment of the countries (excluding the United States (US) — which announced its intended withdrawal from the Paris Agreement) to work together to implement the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Paris Agreement, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In summary, the Plan promotes the following measures:

  • The main commitments under the Paris Agreement, including the target to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius and commitments to implement nationally determined contributions (NDCs)
  • Drafting long-term greenhouse gas (GHG) emission development strategies by 2020, for the period to 2050
  • Working towards affordable, reliable, sustainable, and low GHG emission energy systems as soon as is feasible
  • Promoting energy efficiency and improving international collaboration on energy efficiency
  • Scaling up renewable energy and other sustainable energy sources
  • Promoting access to modern and sustainable energy use for all
  • Enhancing climate resilience and climate adaption efforts
  • Aligning finance flows with the goals of the Paris Agreement
  • Mobilising climate finance by multilateral development banks (for example, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development)
  • Phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies

By Jörn Kassow and Patrick Braasch

At the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, in September 2016, the G20 leaders reaffirmed their commitment to rationalise and phase-out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption over the medium term, while recognising the need to support the poor. This is not exactly new – similar commitments have been included in past summit communiques. Expectations are growing, however, that a time limit for ending fossil fuel subsidies will be agreed at the 2017 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.

By Paul Davies and Michael Green

Prior to the G20 Leaders’ Summit on 4 September, China and the US ratified the Paris Climate Agreement during a ceremony in Hangzhou, China. This commitment from the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitters is expected to prompt developed nations in Europe to follow suit.

The adoption of the Paris Agreement by 195 countries is widely considered to be one of the most ambitious international environmental agreements, whereby parties committed to limiting the increase in the global average temperature to 2˚C above pre-industrial levels while striving to limit the temperature increase to 1.5˚C.

China and the US join 25 other signatories who have ratified the Paris Agreement – the majority of whom are islands particularly vulnerable to climate change, for example, the Bahamas and Nauru. With China and the US now among the signatories, it is likely to accelerate the entry into force of the Paris Agreement.

By Paul Davies and Andrew Westgate

Now in its eleventh year, The G20 Summit heads to the city of Hangzhou, China – the first time a G20 summit has been held for heads of state in China. As this years’ destination, China is maximising its role as the host nation to not only highlight its position as an economic superpower, but also to push for continued commitment to climate change and showcase its market-leading role in green finance.

In preparation for the summit, China has not only spruced-up its host city, but has cleaned up its skies. Chinese authorities implemented strict controls on factories operating in the provinces of Zhejiang (where Hangzhou is located), Jiangsu and the city of Shanghai, as part of its short-term air quality plan to ensure blue skies during the G20. As significant industrial centres, the restrictions introduced impact global supply chains across various industries, yet such impact has not deterred the priority of air quality.