Snower: G20 should make a commitment to climate protection

Dennis Snower, President of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW) and Co-Chairman of the G20 think tanks (T20), is calling on the G20 to make a commitment to climate protection at their summit in Hamburg. "The situation is difficult following the withdrawal of the US from the Paris climate accord, but I feel it's important to have a significant majority expressing their commitment to the treaty," said Snower. "A key measure of the success of this summit will be how strongly committed the largest industrialized and emerging countries are to climate protection. Support for the Paris agreement will also serve as a litmus test for the wider willingness to adhere to international agreements."

"The development of a road map for phasing out subsidies for fossil fuel would represent an important step toward greater climate protection," added Snower. At their summit in late May, the T20 (Think 20), a group of think tanks from G20 countries mandated by the German government, presented a plan for phasing out such subsidies by 2022. "In addition, the global expansion of CO2 taxes should be discussed," said Snower. The revenue raised could be used to compensate those who bear the burden of climate protection.

"Climate protection is a typical public good, one that no one wants to provide unless they are compensated for the costs involved. But if that happens, the US government can be persuaded to take steps to protect the climate as well, since then it would not conflict with the administration's "America First" ideology," said Snower. In that way, the other G20 states can show the Trump administration that a return to rational climate policy is in its own interests. If the US falls behind on climate protection, it will fall behind economically as well in one of the most important areas of future development."

"Having said that, even without global coordination, climate policy can still be driven forward by individual countries, municipalities, or companies—and the G20 should encourage this. Unless most of the G20 states make a clear commitment to climate protection, the summit risks ending in failure with regard to a central issue," stated Snower.

"‘Recoupling the World’ sums up the thinking behind our T20 proposals. This involves, first of all, moving beyond unilateral country-by-country action and working together on supranational problems. Secondly, it involves seeking to prevent the decoupling of economic and social progress," Snower said.

The T20 think tanks presented a series of concrete proposals around climate protection at the Think20 GLOBAL SOLUTIONS summit held on May 29 and 30 in Berlin. 

About the T20

The Think 20 (T20) is mandated by the G20 presidency and brings together research institutes and think tanks from the G20 countries. As an independent, open network, the T20 facilitates exchange between its members as well as with policy makers, the business community, other stakeholders, and the public. In 2017, the T20 developed a series of policy recommendations in themed task forces. These proposals were presented to the German government at the T20 summit GLOBAL SOLUTIONS at the end of May and are published in the form of Policy Briefs on the G20 Insights Platform at: During Germany's presidency of the G20 in 2016/17, the T20 group is being coordinated by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy and the German Development Institute (DIE).