This Friday and Saturday, the G20 will hold is meeting in Hamburg, Germany. As always, this event is under huge scrutiny, as shown by the massive protest that gathered more than 10 000 people calling for respect for the environment in the streets of the second largest German city last Monday.
But the calls are not only being made by citizens: By the end of June, over 100 business leaders worldwide had backed the final recommendations of a global task force set up by the G20 to disclose how companies manage climate-related risk. More and more investors, shareholders, lenders, underwriters and the public are asking for more meaningful and transparent climate-related financial information.
These calls must be taken seriously by the leaders of the world’s major industrialised and emerging economies, who need to be coherent and take the right decisions that will provide the solutions to the challenges our world faces today. Leaders cannot continue with this political schizophrenia and must establish real coherence between the climate objectives the world set itself in Paris in December 2015 and the negotiations of free-trade agreements, whether at the bilateral level or within the World Trade Organisation.
The EU, which is the largest trader in the world and which always presents itself as being the leader in the fight against climate change, has a particular role to play.
A few weeks ago, European leaders condemned the US for leaving the Paris Agreement. They also strongly criticised US President Trump’s isolationist and protectionist trade policies. According to them, the best answer to the US politics and reassert the leadership role of Europe on the international stage is through trade agreements. The free-trade agreement the EU is currently negotiating with Japan is a perfect example, the Commission being absolutely convinced that such a political move will counteract US government’s influence on the agenda for the global economy.
However, to be credible, the EU must ensure that its trade policies does not jeopardise all the efforts that are being made by countries worldwide - but also by many other actors such as regions, cities, companies - to keep global warming below safe levels. Climate leadership does not stop at home! The EU has the responsibility as a key global actor to show consistence and push for a real transformation of the economy. As the biggest trading bloc, the EU is able to impose rules that reward those that respect the key international laws from the International Labour Organisation as well as the multilateral environmental agreements.
The climate change scepticism of the Trump administration has made it all the more important for the European Union to show leadership. The G20 must clearly come with more than just a mere family picture.
The Greens are asking for:
Ø Europe to realise that an ambitious climate policy is a real opportunity for its economy,
Ø The disclosure of the ‘carbon footprint’ of all trade policies negotiated at the G20,
Ø A debate on the production methods and processes within the WTO to be able to differentiate the most environmentally friendly products,
Ø A reform of the anti-dumping rules so that the most essential social and environmental norms are included,
Ø A clear overview of the sectors that are actually at risk of ‘carbon leakage’ (something that is currently over-exaggerated and which benefit the most polluting sectors) and more adapted solutions for those who really need to be protected
Ø The quick phasing-out of fossil fuels subsidies, which money could then be used to reinforce the transition to a renewable energy based economy, in Europe but also in developing and most vulnerable countries
Ø Leadership on the implementation of key international laws from the International Labour Organisation as well as the multilateral environmental agreements
The Greens/EFA are currently are currently working on proposals to make sure trade agreements are based on ecology. Follow our activity on trade via twitter via @TTIPBeware