People and the planet 'shortchanged' at G20

Posted: 3 April 2009

Leaders of the world's biggest economies signally failed to position sustainability at the core of their efforts to restructure the world's economy at the G20 meeting in London this week, according to environmental campaigners.

"Once again world leaders have short-changed people and the planet," said Friends of the Earth's Executive Director Andy Atkins said.

G20 London Summit logo
G20 London Summit logo
The G20 London Summit delivered less environmental commitment than its logo promised.
"The economic system and the global environment are on a devastating collision course - but despite pledging to build an inclusive, green and sustainable recovery little has been done to change direction.

"The world must seize the huge benefits of investing in green technologies and energy systems - this will slash emissions and create millions of new jobs around the world.

"The financial system must be urgently overhauled to prioritise the urgent need to develop a low-carbon future - and avoid a massive bill to deal with the devastating consequences of unchecked climate change later on."

Missed opportunity

"The G20 meeting was a huge missed opportunity for the G20 leaders," said David Norman, Director of Campaigns at WWF-UK.

"As we head towards the crucial climate talks being held in Copenhagen in December, it is vital that we see a clear move towards a low carbon, more equitable future. Without it, we stand no chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. Unfortunately, the G20 outcome is worryingly vague."

At the London meeting, the G20 leaders reaffirmed their desire to reach a new climate change agreement, but they failed to ensure that a substantial percentage of the economic stimulus is devoted to climate-friendly measures.

"In the coming months there will be further opportunities, for example at the G8, for leaders to link the financial and trade stimulus to thecreation of a green economy - and the world cannot afford for these to be missed too," said WWF.

Boost for poor countries

On the other hand, the economic boost promised to developing economies was broadly welcomed.

Claire Melamed, Head of Policy at ActionAid said: "The G20 have agreed an unprecedented boost for poor countries. If they follow through on these promises, the money they have agreed today will go a long way towards helping these countries weather the effects of the economic storms that are daily battering the poorest people in the world."

The charity also cautioned that the money must be linked to reforms of the IMF and the World Bank.

"The G20 have announced that they will accelerate reforms of the bank and the IMF. This is more important now than it has ever been, since the announcements today effectively put these institutions in charge of a huge global fiscal stimulus. These promises must be kept and poor countries must be given an equal say in the institutions that now hold the world's chequebook."