The G20 or the Group of 20 is an intergovernmental forum comprising 19 countries including several largest economies of the world, the European Union and the African Union. The countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States. Spain is invited as a permanent guest. It was founded in 1999 to address global challenges from economic crises and financial stability to climate change and migration.
Every year the G20 has a summit which serves as a major platform for discussing the current pressing issues. This year, the G20 summit was held in New Delhi, India on September 9 and 10, under the theme of “One Earth, One Family, One Future” Concerns such as food security, climate and energy, development, health and digitalisation were discussed.
One of the central themes of the G20 Summit was the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. While the G20 nations acknowledged the principle that states should not seize territory by force and expressed concern for the suffering of the Ukrainian people, they notably refrained from directly condemning Russia for its role in the conflict. This marked a departure from the previous year when the G20 had condemned Russia’s actions and demanded its withdrawal from Ukraine. Diplomats argued that an outright condemnation would not have been accepted by Russia, but the consensus achieved at the summit was considered a success as all G20 members, including Russia, committed to refraining from territorial aggression.
India played a pivotal role, along with Brazil, Indonesia, and South Africa, in mediating discussions surrounding the Ukraine conflict. This underscores the increasing influence of Global South developing nations within the G20, as they contributed to preventing a fracture within the group over this contentious issue.
In a historic move, the 55-member African Union (AU) was formally admitted as a permanent member of the G20, placing it on an equal footing with the European Union. Prior to this, only South Africa had been a member of the G20 from the African continent. This decision aimed to enhance the representation of Global South countries within the G20, where traditionally, G7 nations had held dominant positions.
Simultaneously, the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South) which is heavily influenced by China and Russia, expanded to include new members such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. This expansion was seen as an attempt by China to create an alternative forum to the G20, further emphasising the shifting global dynamics.
During the summit, leaders from the United States, India, Saudi Arabia, and other nations unveiled ambitious plans to establish railway and port links connecting the Middle East, South Asia, and eventually Europe. President Joe Biden hailed this initiative as a “real big deal.” This proposal was a response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, as the Biden administration aimed to position the United States as an alternative partner for infrastructure development in developing countries within the G20 framework. However, specific details regarding financing and the project’s timeline remained undisclosed.
G20 leaders reached a consensus to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030, recognizing the need to phase out unabated coal power. While this marked progress in addressing climate change, the summit fell short of setting concrete climate goals or providing a clear plan to amend existing policies and targets to achieve renewable energy expansion. Additionally, the summit noted the requirement of $4 trillion annually to fund the transition to green energy but did not outline a pathway to secure this funding.
These developments were closely watched ahead of the upcoming COP28 U.N. climate summit in the United Arab Emirates, where more comprehensive climate commitments are expected to be discussed.
While the G20 Summit covered a broad spectrum of global issues, the United Kingdom made a noteworthy commitment to climate action. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a historic contribution of £1.6 billion to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), marking the largest single funding commitment by the UK to combat climate change. This contribution forms a substantial part of the UK’s commitment to spend £11.6 billion on international climate finance between 2021 and 2026.
The GCF is a crucial mechanism for supporting developing countries in reducing emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change. The UK’s increased contribution reflects its dedication to climate leadership and its determination to influence other developed nations to follow suit.
Prime Minister Sunak’s call for global leaders to reduce carbon emissions ahead of COP28 reinforced the UK’s commitment to climate action. The government intends to continue leading by example in making both the UK and the world more sustainable and secure.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak addressed the House of Commons the following day underling the progress made at the G20 summit – from signing a new Strategic Partnership with Singapore – to boost growth, jobs and security to increasing diplomatic pressure on Russia to end the war.
The UK also pledged to provide £3 million for the World Food Programme and is hosting a UK Global Food Security Summit in 2023 for long-term solutions to address the current global shortage in the food supply fueled by Russia’s destruction of Ukraine’s grain stores. Aside from leading the charge in climate action through its £1.6 billion commitment to the GFC, the UK also underscored the importance of reducing the risk of exposure of its democratic institutions to foreign interference.
The G20 Summit in Delhi was marked by significant diplomatic achievements, particularly in addressing the Ukraine conflict, expanding representation, and addressing climate change. The United Kingdom’s record contribution to the Green Climate Fund underscores the importance of international collaboration in tackling global challenges. As the world looks ahead to COP28 and other critical summits, the decisions made at the G20 will undoubtedly shape the global agenda for years to come.
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