The G20 summit, just concluded Nov. 16 in Brisbane, Australia, was in many respects a historic meeting of the world’s leaders. From the controversies to the groundbreaking agreements, the G20 summit represented a critical time in international affairs. Read on for the most important things that happened at the Brisbane G20 summit 2014.
Sources: Edition.CNN.com, NewRepublic.com, News.com.au, CBC.ca, WhiteHouse.gov, Salon.com
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott attempted to keep climate change, and specifically the carbon emission debate, off the official agenda, arguing that the main purpose of the summit was economics. But under strong pressure from Europe and the U.S., carbon emissions became part of the final statement – especially given the U.S. and China’s public agreement days earlier to limit greenhouse gas pollution post-2020. Abbott was widely criticized by many leaders for his scrapping of Australia’s carbon tax, and refused to offer any financial support to the Green Climate Fund, an international fund to help developing countries adapt to global warming. U.S. President Barack Obama pledged $3 billion towards the fund.
In order to help increase energy efficiency worldwide and attempt to curb further climate change, the Energy Efficiency Action Plan focuses on various sectors of the industry. One key point comes in the agreement to develop country-specific plans next year to improve the efficiency of heavy-duty commercial vehicles. Trucks, buses, and other large vehicles account for nearly half of all vehicle emissions, despite making up only 10 percent of all vehicles.
In addition to the milestone agreement reached with the U.S. on greenhouse gas emissions, China also announced several new trade deals including a free trade agreement with Australia that will cover a raft of commercial and governmental deals. Furthermore, Jinping traded a historic handshake with regional rival, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, suggesting a potential de-escalation of tensions between the two countries over territorial disputes in the East China Sea.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had an awkward summit, to say the least, starting with a snub from the Australian side — a junior in Tony Abbott’s cabinet was the only member of the welcoming party when Putin arrived. The anger was intensified when Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with Putin and made headlines by saying, “I guess I’ll shake your hand but I’ll only have one thing to say to you – get out of Ukraine.” Obama echoed the sentiment, saying, “If he (Putin) continues down the path he is on, violating international law, providing heavy arms to the separatists in Ukraine, violating an agreement he agreed to just a few weeks ago…then the isolation Russia is currently experiencing will continue.”
Source: Edition.CNN.com, News.com.au
The G20 leaders released a final communiqué of the summit’s achievements, titled the Brisbane Action Plan, which is a three-page document with more than 800 reforms. Should the reforms be put into action swiftly and properly, the G20 nations plan to help strengthen medium-term potential economic growth and increase global demand by increasing the collective G20 growth by more than 2 percent in the next five years.
In addition to launching the Global Infrastructure Initiative, a collective effort to increasing private financing for worldwide infrastructure investment, G20 nations agreed to help shore up international financial institutions. This included strengthening laws that allow multinational companies to avoid taxes or use anonymous shell companies to facilitate illicit operations, such as money laundering. Additionally, the agreement expands the amount of money available to the World Bank, along with other multilateral development banks, to deploy to emerging economies.
Oxfam Australia’s CEO Dr. Helen Szoke, voiced fears that the international leaders at the summit were not sufficiently committed to addressing Ebola. She believes the U.N. target for curbing the spread of Ebola will go unmet, and said, “The U.S.A., U.K., E.U., Canada, China, and Germany are leading the way but overall the G20 Summit’s response to this crisis is hugely disappointing.” The agreements reached between G20 nations with regard to Ebola included endorsing an International Monetary Fund initiative to provide the economies devastated by Ebola – namely Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia – with $300 million US in low-cost or no-cost financing and debt relief, as well as increasing international capacity in preventing, detecting, and responding to future outbreaks.
Source: News.com.au, WhiteHouse.gov
In an unprecedented move, Pope Francis wrote a letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott addressing market fundamentalism, fair taxation, hunger and poverty, unemployment, climate change, financial regulation, and terrorism. He pleaded with Abbott and other leaders to ensure that significant action came about as a result of the summit, saying, “…Many lives are at stake behind these political and technical discussions. It would indeed be regrettable if such discussions were to remain purely on the level of declarations of principle.”
reforms be put into action swiftly and properly, the G20 nations plan to help strengthen medium-term potential economic growth and increase global demand by increasing the collective G20 growth by more than 2 percent in the next five years.
In the Brisbane Action Plan, G20 nations committed to decrease the gender gap between male and female labor-force participation by 25 percent by 2025. This could potentially increase the number of women in the workforce by more than 100 million.
From the awkward to the adorable, this was perhaps the best moment of the 2014 G20 Summit in Brisbane. Fair play, Australia.