by Andrew Light and Rebecca Lefton
The Group of 20 developed and developing nations will meet Monday in Los Cabos, Mexico, for their seventh meeting since the initial G-20 summit in November 2008, hosted by the George W. Bush administration in Washington, D.C. What will be the role of climate and energy issues at this latest summit?
This is an especially intriguing question since this G-20 meeting, unlike those that came before it, starts a week that will end with the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—more commonly known as the Rio+20 Earth Summit. This once-in-a-decade event brings together thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, and civil society to focus on addressing poverty and sustainable development.
President Barack Obama will attend the G-20 meeting but not Rio+20, and other G-20 leaders are expected to make the same decision. For this and other reasons, some fear that the G-20 could upstage the Rio meeting.
But can the G-20, a relatively closed but highly influential meeting of the world’s largest economies, help set the stage for the Rio meeting, which, at this late date, is suffering from a lack of consensus on agreed goals? Yes. The best thing the G-20 leaders can do to help Rio succeed is to double down on their core climate and energy commitment—phasing out fossil-fuel subsidies—and creating a concrete roadmap to making it a reality. This will demonstrate that what the world needs now is concrete steps to real commitments instead of another series of empty proclamations.