Recent climate change in the form of global warming can largely be attributed to two human activities: greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and deforestation. Corporations are major drivers of both these processes; two-thirds of human GHG emissions were caused by just 90 large companies, and commercial agriculture alone accounts for 40% of deforestation activities.
The Group of Twenty, which is collectively responsible for three-quarters of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, made some progress in 2016 in affirming its climate commitments, most notably with the ratification of the Paris Agreement by China and the USA. However, member states have been sluggish in setting out concrete steps and specific targets to reduce emissions.
In considering this issue, governments have to balance corporate interests with environmental interests, short term economic gain with long term sustainability, and, especially for the big polluters in the G20, national economic performance with international pressure to reduce emissions. This balancing act is delicate; in few other issues do the interests and prospects of so many different parties hinge on even the smallest policy shifts.
Delegates of the G20 will need to devise mutually-beneficial multilateral arrangements that will halt and reverse the detrimental effects on our climate, whilst keeping in line with national policy and economic interests.
Anti-globalism is not a new phenomenon –protesters in Seattle were the first to make headlines as far back as 1999– but the elevation of this strain of thought into mainstream politics was well and truly realised in 2016. In the US, presidential candidates of both major parties built their trade policies on platforms unfriendly to free trade, including a formal withdrawal of the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In the UK, voters backed “Leave” in the Brexit referendum, signalling UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. And in continental Europe, several far right political parties have found its way into the political mainstream by advocating against economic globalisation and immigration.
A few issues in particular have seen increased exposure in the recent wave of anti-globalist sentiments. As aforementioned, free trade is currently on the back foot as many world leaders drift towards protectionism and the prioritization of domestic jobs. Furthermore, the global movement of people has often met with increased populist resistance.
Globalisation has been a key driving force for growth and global prosperity for decades. True to the founding purpose of the G20 to manage the global economy, the 2016 Summit has reaffirmed its stance favouring international trade and against populist attacks on globalisation. As such, the committee should explore strategies and as to how globalisation can be made more inclusive for all parties, and how to best confront the pushback against globalisation. As the G20, while delegates will naturally be expected to focus on the economic aspects of globalisation, other areas of this multifaceted issue should be examined as well.
You can contact Zhijian and Wengang at firstname.lastname@example.org