An Energy Agenda for the G20 as if the Future Mattered

An Energy Agenda for the G20 as if the Future Mattered

March 15, 2016 by R Andreas Kraemer
Heinrich Böll Foundation North America
For free
Place of Publication: Washington DC
Date of Publication: 11 March 2016
Number of Pages: 32
License: CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0
Language of Publication: English

The G20 has fallen behind other international organizations in addressing the challenges of climate change and supporting sustainable energy transformation and electrification. This article lays the foundation for a reflection and discussion on what the G20 can usefully do to support these transformations, and how it must change to achieve this. Policy recommendations include shifting funds and privileges away from fossil fuels and nuclear power to the development and acceleration of the safer, cleaner and fundamentally cheaper energy alternatives. While pursuing this policy agenda, the G20 should avoid commitments to infrastructure projects that create path-dependencies on fossil fuels and grant new land-use rights for this industry. Beyond taking these actions in 2016, the G20 Principles on Energy Collaboration must change to be in line with realities of the current energy landscape and agreed international policy objectives like the Global Goals or the outcomes of the UN Climate Summit in Paris at the end of 2015.

Table of contents:

Context and Summary


1. The global goals (or SDGs) and the G20 energy agenda

2. A positive energy agenda for the G20

Bring sustainable energy, namely electricity, to those currently without it

Improve energy efficiency & energy productivity (focus on “Nega-Watts”)

Accelerate energy system transformation

Focus on storage, including renewable-power-to-gas and power-to-liquid

Increase competition, especially in distributed power generation (prosumers)

Phase out nuclear power also by denying subsidies and removing privileges

Phase out fossil energy & lift the resource curse by cutting perverse subsidies

Leave coal, oil & gas in the ground, adopt laws to ensure that happens

Use government ownership & control of firms & resources in public interest

Share unavoidable costs of global overheating & acidification (soils & oceans)

Bind green & blue carbon via ecosystem management, not geo-engineering

Remove tariffs & non-tariff obstacles to energy-related trade & investment

3. Do no harm, G20: pitfalls and dead ends to be avoided

Don’t allow trade & investment regimes to create new rights to fossil resources

Don’t allow the G20 focus on large projects to lock in fossil technologies

4. Revising the G20 principles on energy collaboration

Media resources (a selection)