On 1 December 2016, Germany will assume the presidency of the G20. This presents the German government with the opportunity in the coming year to shape the energy agenda of the group of twenty leading industrialised and emerging economies. The G20 is a crucial forum for efforts to advance a global energy transition. Together, its members are responsible for more than three quarters of global energy demand and 82% of carbon dioxide emissions from energy generation.
At the same time, the most important bilateral donors in energy sector development cooperation – Germany, Japan, France, and the USA – are all members of the G20. Its membership also includes leading providers of innovative technologies. The USA, Japan, China and the EU, among others, all exert considerable influence on the technical and economic development pathways of future energy systems.
There is an important window of opportunity to advance an ambitious energy agenda. Two historical agreements were adopted by the United Nations in 2015: the Paris Climate Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The success of both agreements requires a fundamental transformation of the global energy system. The G20 has moved to take action on sustainable energy in recent years – in particular with regard to reducing subsidies for fossil fuels and promoting renewable energies, energy efficiency, and energy access.
But these measures alone are not sufficient to bring about a global energy transition. The new IASS Policy Brief “An Ambitious Energy Agenda for the G20” recommends that Germany should use its G20 presidency to push for the adoption of an ambitious agenda for a global energy transition. The policy brief offers three key recommendations:
- Advance the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The G20 should firmly anchor climate protection in its energy agenda. Its members should evaluate emerging energy sector trends and plans for their compatibility with climate protection goals and should regularly publish progress reports.
- Make sustainable energy a key focus of G20 summits. The risks and long-term costs associated with investments in fossil fuels and nuclear energy should be included on the agenda at the G20 Meetings of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. This would enhance the ability of actors to forecast and manage impacts on financial markets, economies, and public finances.
- End investment in fossil energy infrastructure. The G20 should call on multilateral and national development banks to align investment practice with climate protection goals and to report on this annually. As a part of this, all investment in the construction of new coal-fired power plants should cease.