This photo taken on April 23, 2019 shows a man walking past wind turbines at the Phu Lac wind farm in southern Vietnam's Binh Thuan province. (MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP)
Building a more climate-resilient economy is needed in the post-pandemic recovery, with Indonesia urging G20 members to promote “environmental multilateralism” to arrest global warming.
Indonesia is this year’s president of the G20 – a grouping of the world’s 20 major developed and developing economies. Indonesia’s Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar, who chaired the Joint Environment and Climate Ministers’ Meeting held on Aug 31, said environmental multilateralism “is the only mechanism where all countries, regardless of their size and wealth, stand on equal footing and equal treatment”.
Climate change is no longer just an environmental issue but a human security issue.
Serina Abdul Rahman, lecturer at the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, National University of Singapore (NUS)
The meeting, being held in Bali, was expected to produce a joint agreement later on Aug 31 on three priority issues – sustainable recovery, land-based and ocean-based climate action, and resource mobilization. These actions are in line with the G20 countries’ commitment to reduce emissions and prevent a 1.5 C rise in global temperatures as stated in the Paris Agreement.
Environmentalists welcomed the move, saying recent natural disasters like the flooding in Pakistan and the heat wave in many countries attest to the urgent need for climate action.
“Climate change is no longer just an environmental issue but a human security issue,” said Serina Abdul Rahman, lecturer at the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, National University of Singapore (NUS). She said the pandemic has shown “that the way we lived before is unsustainable in many ways”.
Serina called for “social justice”, with industrialized countries helping developing nations in reducing emissions.
Helena Varkkey, associate professor at the Department of International and Strategic Studies at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, said most G20 countries are also big carbon emitters. She said G20 can serve as a platform to strategize an equitable and inclusive low-carbon transition
“This is in return for the many centuries of resource extraction (and damage) in the Global South by the northern, First World nations, as well as the inequity in GHG emissions between the developed and the developing worlds,” she said, referring to greenhouse gas emissions.
For Renato Redentor Constantino, executive director of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities in Manila, it is time for G20 economies to stop measuring progress through the “sole yardstick of GDP and productivity”.
He said G20 countries have to “aggressively reach out” to the most vulnerable countries and move toward global decarbonization.
Helena Varkkey, associate professor at the Department of International and Strategic Studies at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, said most G20 countries are also big carbon emitters. She said G20 can serve as a platform to strategize an equitable and inclusive low-carbon transition.
“As a grouping defined by economic might, it is especially important for these economies to lead the way in redefining development and progress in terms that go beyond economic consideration,” she said.
Varkkey said G20 economies can use their influence in global trade, via their huge markets and robust trade links with almost all other countries, to promote fair trade and green supply chains.
Serina of NUS said G20 leaders must acknowledge how climate change has affected local communities. She said any climate policy has to include local input and knowledge and must go beyond carbon credit schemes and pledges to cut emissions.
Serina said climate action is “very urgent” as extreme weather events have been harming local fisheries and farming communities.
“The unparalleled drought and floods across the world are clear evidence of the climatic turmoil and change that we are going through. Steps needed to be taken a century ago – but it is never too late to take action now to minimize (climate change’s) impact on the poor,” she said.