Journalists gather in the international media centre to watch the family photo of G20 leaders and their guests.
Journalists in the media centre at the Hangzhou Summit admire our handiwork: Journalists from Egypt (top) are impressed by Newsdesk's commissioned artwork for the cover, and two fellows from Turkey (bottom) are enjoying the article by their president,
Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
US secretary of state John Kerry — just after receiving his copy of G20 China: The Hangzhou Summit — with the G20 Research Group's Denisse Rudich.
On the eve of the 2016 G20 summit in Hangzhou, Chinese president Xi Jinping has delivered his four main priorities for the summit, which can be found in his article in G20 China: The Hangzhou Summit. Fourth on the list was “to narrow the global development divide, we are leading the way in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We will issue the G20 Initiative on Supporting Industrialization in Africa and Least Developed Countries and work for the early entry into force of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change to ensure equal access by all people to the benefits of development.”
In the same publication, Macky Sall, president of Senegal and the head of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), who is attending the summit as an official guest, has provided his expectations. So has Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa, which is a member of the G20.
Although President Xi, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and President Zuma have pinpointed industrialization as their main focus for Africa, President Sall has presented a different priority. He is urging the G20 leaders to play an active role in reforming the international taxation system. This is an issue area that, in its application to Africa, has not been given the needed attention by G20 leaders thus far.
Although official guests have historically played a minor role in G20 decision making, more countries have been invited to attend the G20 summit this year than ever before, representing and symbolizing President Xi’s attempt for greater inclusiveness. It therefore seems promising that the official guests at Hangzhou will most likely be given a greater voice than has been seen at past G20 summits.
When the G20 communiqué is released on September 5, it will become apparent how much the G20 leaders have taken President Sall’s expectations into account, embracing President Xi’s idea of inclusiveness, or if Senegal has been treated as a sidelined observer and a high-profile guest good primarily for summit photo ops.
The bridge is the centrepiece of the logo for the G20 Hangzhou Summit, and the city of Hangzhou is known for its scenic lakes and bridges. This is symbolic of the role that China wishes to play in global governance, and symbolic of the main purpose of the summit. One of the bridges that China will have to build is between the BRICS and the G20. On 4-5 September 2016, China will be the formal host and chair of the G20 summit. In addition, it will also host the BRICS summit in 2017. It is thus reasonable to expect China to coordinate the approach and deliverables for both summits for maximum effect.
Chinese president Xi Jinping's top priorities for the G20 are now clear. As he stated in G20 China: The Hangzhou Summit, the focus of the G20 summit will be on the four I's of "innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive." Although his priorities for the 2017 BRICS summit are less clear, there are many opportunities to achieve continuity and mutual support. The most important is in the field of development. Xi outlined in his vision for the G20 summit, saying that "to narrow the global development divide, we are leading the way in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We will issue the G20 Initiative on Supporting Industrialisation in Africa and Least Developed Countries and work for the early entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change to ensure equal access by all people to the benefits of development."
This development agenda offers a special place for the BRICS, especially its New Development Bank (NDB), led by KV Kamath. Since the bank's establishment in 2015, it has issued its first bond which was a green bond worth RMB3 billion. The bank's environmental mandate and commitment in green infrastructure provides the necessary foundation for green development, which is a fundamental aspect of sustainable development and the battle against climate change. For example, with the first bond issue, it was announced that RMB 800 million will be invested in renewable energy projects, and the inaugural projects are expected to reach the target of achieving emissions reduction by 4 million tons per year. The NDB also signed an agreement with the Standard Bank of South Africa on 2 September 2016, which provides the foundation of cooperation that China will need to achieve his G20 development goal of industrialising Africa and the least developed countries.
Given these parallels, China should capitalize on the the opportunities offered by the NDB at the upcoming Hangzhou Summit. China should specifically call on the NDB during the G20 summit to play a leading role in achieving the sustainable development agenda. This should also be tightly linked to other issue areas such as climate change and energy. The BRICS, as a supporter of G20 outcomes, should receive reciprocal support from the G20 under China's leadership. In conclusion, China should seize the opportunity in Hangzhou to play a bridge-building role between the BRICS and the G20.
United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon receives his copy of G20 China: The Hangzhou Summit, after giving a press conference at the media centre.
World Trade Organization director general Roberto Azevedo receives a copy of G20 China: The Hangzhou Summit from John Kirton, co-director of the G20 Research
Group, in the media centre at the Hangzhou Summit.
John Kirton, co-director of the G20 Research Group, on the Bund in Shanghai anticipates the launch of G20 China: The Hangzhou Summit (available for free download here), with the lead article by Chinese president and G20 host Xi Jinping.
A few days before the 11th G20 summit starts in Hangzhou, on September 4, it is about to produce its first serious success on the critical issue of controlling climate change.
On September 2, China as G20 host and the United States are expected to announce jointly that they will ratify the historic December 2015 United Nations Paris Agreement on climate change and do so before the end of the year. These two countries together account for 38% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the Paris Agreement requires 55 countries representing 55% of global emissions to ratify for it to enter into legal force. This act of Sino-US co-leadership will thus do much to make the Paris Agreement real.
Up to then, G20 members had been slow to ratify to agreement. The first to do so was France, acting on June 15 a full half year after the agreement was reached in its capital city and about two months after the high-profile, summit-level signing ceremony at the UN in New York in mid April 2016. Then came Korea and signs of political movement in the legislature of Brazil. But many of the other major players were, and still are, missing in action. They include Canada, whose immensely popular prime minister Justin Trudeau has a majority in his parliament, an electoral mandate to move strongly to control climate change, and is bringing this issue as his third highest priority to the G20's Hangzhou Summit.
This new act of Sino-US G20 co-leadership on climate change is reminiscent of what presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama did just before the G20's Brisbane Summit in November 2014, as I describe in my new book from Routledge Publishing, China's G20 Leadership. Still, it is a small step on a long road if the world is to control climate change in the short time that is left before catastrophic dynamics erupt in full force.
Although there are several routes for such an agreement to assume legal force in the United States, including those that do not require the advice and consent of a resistant, gridlocked Senate in a presidential election year, Congress still controls the spending power necessary to fully implement the Paris Agreement. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump denies that climate change is taking place at all.
Rapid ratification by other leading G20 members is also required to maintain this trans-Pacific momentum and reach the 55% emissions threshold. First in line here are the hitherto silent Japan and Germany, the world's third and fourth largest economies that are still addicted to burning killer coal to generate electricity at home.
All G20 leaders thus need to do more at Hangzhou than just promise to "work to" bring the Paris Agreement into legal effect, as President Xi cautiously put it in announcing his key aims for his summit. The world's key 20 leaders must pledge that they, each of them, will ratify or similarly act before the end of the year. If they all act together, they will bring a majority well beyond the required 55% to the bear on task.
Even if they do, it will not be nearly enough. International laws created by the UN matter but do not usually lead to full, fast implementation by all members who legally sign on. And even if they did, the Paris Agreement was designed to fail, for even if all its provisions were fully implemented, it would not limit the growth in emissions to the 2°C post-industrial revolution target set in the agreement, let alone the 1.5°C rise that is really required to keep the world safe. Thus real political action for the real material world is needed by the leaders at Hangzhou, meeting just after July 2016 came in as the world's hottest month in recorded history and each month for the last year was warmer than its counterpart ever before.
Among the dozen or so things G20 leaders at Hangzhou need to do, two stand out. The first is to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, as they promised to do in the medium term at their Pittsburgh Summit way back in 2009. They are two years overdue on keeping this promise, and their citizens and the whole world are paying the price for this G20 pledge not yet kept. The second is to agree to kill killer coal for electricity generation by the fixed date in the near future, as Canada did in 2009, the United Kingdom promised to do this year and as China has started in practice to do as well.
A short video about the compliance assessments produced by the G7 Research Group. For the full compliance report on how well the G7 leaders fulfilled their commitments from the 2015 Schloss Elmau Summit, click here.