July 18, 2020

Movements put G20 governments and central banks on notice: ‘We need a truly just recovery’

Photos and videos of this week’s direct actions are available HERE.

GLOBAL – Civil society organizations and grassroots movements from across the globe sent a strong message to G20 governments and central banks, demanding a Just Recovery from both Covid-19 and the climate crisis. Actions included banner drops, projections and blockades of public buildings, as well as a series of online actions.  

Over the last few days, the European Council and the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Banks Governors met to discuss measures to tackle the economic recession caused by the pandemic. World leaders are being urged to use the trillions of dollars of public money on the table to enact truly healthy, sustainable and equitable recovery plans. 

New research by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and partners confirms that G20 countries have already handed over or earmarked over 150 billion USD for fossil fuel corporations and other polluting industries. 

Actions organized this week include: 

  • Banner drops in Bangladesh, including in the coast of Cox’s Bazar, recently hit by cyclone Amphan, and in the UNESCO heritage site of the Sundarbans mangrove forest.
  • Banner drops in several South African cities and the release of the 34-page “No going back to normal: Imagining a Just Recovery in South Africa” report
  • A pixelstick projection in Manila, Philippines; and a projection in Porto Alegre, Brazil calling to end coal funding and the project of Mina Guaíba, the largest open pit coal mine in Latin America.
  • Youth activists projected Just Recovery demands on the UK Treasury and Bank of England buildings in London, UK, here’s a b-roll of the action.
  • In Frankfurt, Germany, access to the European Central Bank was blocked by activists protesting against the funding of fossil fuels
  • A Twitterstorm and a global petition, targeting Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors.
  • An open letter signed by the heads of prominent civil society organisations, including 350.org, Action Aid, CAN International, Greenpeace International, Oxfam International, the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) and JubileeDebt.

These events are the beginning of a longer-term campaign for a Just Recovery from the covid-19 pandemic to put us on the path of transforming our energy systems and addressing the climate crisis equitably. 


“As with climate breakdown, the impacts of the pandemic affect the most vulnerable more strongly, and unjustly we are the least likely to have the conditions and resources needed to deal with them. We need governments and world leaders to put the interests of the people before the already wealthy industries, which profit from the pollution and destruction of our ecosystems and our communities. They must mobilize resources to invest in strengthening public health and education systems, and in shifting our economies away from a dependence on fossil fuels that keeps fueling disaster.” Md. Jabed Nur Shantaw, YouthNet For Climate Justice, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

“Our Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is part of the G20 meeting, and as he speaks to his peers from around the world, we would like to inform him that we are demanding a just recovery. A just recovery means leaders such as Tito Mboweni have to deal with the weaknesses of the market system that undermine peoples’ welfare and worsen the climate crisis. We would like to draw attention to the need for a truly healthy, green, equitable, and just recovery for all South Africans. After all, this is our money, our lives, and our future.” Brighton Phiri, Nu-Climate Vision, Klerksdorp, South Africa

“We cannot allow the G20’s responses to the Covid-19 crisis to aggravate another global crisis of equal importance, climate breakdown. Latin America is being terribly affected by both, and those who pay the highest price are the already vulnerable communities. In Porto Alegre, South of Brazil, where they are trying to install the largest open pit coal mine in Latin America, the health of families is at stake once again. But we will not accept anything less than the end of this project and a Just Recovery for everyone.” Renan Andrade, Campaign Organizer at 350.org Latin America

“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed just how fragile our current economic system can be. In this time of crisis, we don’t need the G20 to bail out polluting corporations, and continue subsidizing the fossil fuel industry’s destruction. It’s the G20’s responsibility to finance the transition of countries least responsible for climate change away from polluting technologies. Our voices must be heard. The changes we want are relevant for both the pandemic and the climate crisis: universal healthcare, stronger social safety nets, dignified livelihoods, and better support for the essential workers who keep society afloat. What we need is an equitable and sustainable society where no one, especially the most vulnerable, is left behind.” Rio Constantino, Volunteer at 350.org Philippines

“Yesterday, we successfully blocked the main entrance of the European Central Bank headquarters in Frankfurt to take a stand against the climate crimes committed by the bank. If we want to tackle the climate crisis effectively, the ECB has to stop giving millions of euros to some of the dirtiest coal, oil and gas companies in the world. In addition, the ECB should start channeling funds directly into the public sector in order to support a just and ecological transformation.” Alexis Passadakis, Ende Gelände Frankfurt

“We wanted to let the Bank of England and the Treasury know that we’re watching them. We won’t stand by whilst they focus on bailing out polluting companies at the same time that workers are losing their jobs and people are forced to choose between food and rent. Public money should be invested in building back better for people and not corporate profit.” Sophia Coningham, 15 year-old member of the UK Youth Climate Network

“Central Banks are pumping vast sums of money into our economies right now, but without having taken any steps to exclude fossil fuel corporations and high-carbon sectors. That means they’re trying to address one crisis by simultaneously fuelling another. At this critical moment people are demanding that central banks put people first, not polluters. They need to stop hoovering up high-carbon corporate bonds and direct money away from climate-wrecking fossil fuel companies towards a more equitable and green economy.” Nick Bryer, Campaigner at 350.org Europe

“While we see forests ablaze in Russia, the Arctic region keeps breaking temperature records, environmental disasters have become a norm, and our politicians do nothing. The time has come for them to understand that our future is more valuable than money. Russia is the world’s largest country by territory, and top fourth country by carbon dioxide emissions. These are not only our problems! We are not coming from another planet, and our future and your future is at stake. Only together can we avert the catastrophe.” Arshak Makichyan, Activist, Fridays For Future Russia

“G20 leaders have recently announced their intention to pour $5 trillion into the world economy to recover from the consequences of the pandemic. But we should not forget that ordinary citizens are the ones who truly pay for this, as they are the taxpayers of the G20 countries. If the G20 leaders miss the chance for a just and green world and follow the path of business as usual, overcoming the climate consequences will ultimately cost us all a lot more. Russia on average spends $1.2 billion a year to support energy production from fossil fuels, mostly coal, but also oil and gas. At the same time, Russia has all opportunities to be a climate leader and to become climate neutral much earlier than stated in the draft Strategy of Russia’s long-term development with a low level of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.” Svitlana Romanko, Managing Director at 350.org EECCA