G20 countries are some of the biggest economies and creditor countries in the world. The G20 is a self-selected grouping of governments from 19 individual countries and the European Union, and they measure their power by saying they account for around 80 percent of global economic output, and almost 75 percent of all global trade. G20 countries dominate the boards of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. They are, however, unrepresentative of 90 percent of UN member states.
The G20 (Group of Twenty) is not a formal decision-making space, but it wields influence. Implementation of its agenda depends on the political will of the individual states. With so many top officials in one setting, it serves as an all-purpose gathering of formal and informal diplomatic activity.
G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors will meet for the 3rd time this year on 18 July to continue to “discuss and take urgent actions needed to address the global challenge presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.” The G20 are claiming to show leadership in responding to the pandemic.
This gives us the opportunity to voice our demands on what a Just Recovery should look like.
The last time the world experienced a financial crisis in 2008, the G20 took action to “rescue the global economy”, but to them this meant they spent public money to line the pockets and protect the interests of the already wealthy few, bailing out large corporations and banks, while ordinary people suffered from home and job losses, and decades of public budget austerity to pay for it. We mustn’t repeat those mistakes this time and go back to business as usual.
The meeting on 18-19 July will be a stage where the people that control the purse strings of major economies will build consensus of how governments and banks will react. These choices will determine how much and for how long people will bear the brunt of the economic and social fallout of COVID-19.
The signs so far for climate justice are not good, with the latest research showing the majority of G20 nations are throwing a public finance lifeline to polluting fossil fuel companies of coal, oil and gas during the coronavirus crisis, rather than seizing a historic chance to shift to cleaner energies as part of recovery packages.
Germany is opening new coal plants. Australia is pushing a "gas-led recovery." China's emissions are back up to pre-Covid levels. India is opening up elephant reserves to coal mining. Trump is enacting the fossil fuel dreamscape. This "recovery" is suicide. We have to stop it. https://t.co/MmgF9Vzppa
— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) May 20, 2020
Decisions made by rich economies will have a huge effect on the health and well-being of people around the world, particularly on those already on the frontlines of the climate crisis. The recovery cannot be every nation for itself, and this moment must uplift the voices of those not from G20 nations, and bring the vision of multilateral effort that is required. We must challenge these countries when the global spotlight is collectively on them.
The G20 is not the only gathering of world leaders discussing how to respond. Heads of State from the European Union will host a special summit on 17 and 18 July, the first physical meetings of Heads of States since the pandemic started. With huge resources and infrastructure, the recovery actions of the European Union will be watched closely and influence other governments around the world. They’ll impact other nations significantly, especially if the EU makes plans which negatively impact climate change by backing failing fossil fuels.
Considering the response from the world economies so far, and the fact that fossil fuel companies who wreak havoc on our planet are still receiving recovery stimulus with our money, it’s time they realise they are gambling with our future. There should be #NoMoreBusinessAsUsual. We need a #JustRecovery.
This is the opposite of the #JustRecovery we need!
— 350.org Europe (@350Europe) July 8, 2020
This pandemic has shown that the people who often have the smallest voices in public debate – shopkeepers, cleaners, bus drivers and transport workers, and nurses – are essential to us all.
So unless we start telling that story and galvanise a movement to engage people around the world to speak up to their governments now, the essential voices will be drowned out, yet again.
In short, people’s futures hang in the balance from interconnected health, economic and climate perspectives. This is our money – and we should not leave it to a small group of ministers to gamble with. We should get people’s voices heard and start influencing these conversations as soon as possible. Find out how to take action around the #G20: