The G20 “Fossil Fools” Troika Leads the G20 to the Brisbane Summit
Introduction by Nancy Alexander
As of December 1, 2013, Australia stepped into the role as G20 President, flanked by its “Troika” partners: Russia (the 2013 President) and Turkey (the 2015 President). Its new conservative government led by Prime Minister Tony Abbott has laid out goals -- stimulating growth and building global economic resilience; 10 priorities; and calendar of activities leading up to the G20’s November 2014 Summit.
In her article, “The G20 must face up to need for reform,” Senator Christine Milne, Green Party, Australian Parliament, describes how, during fewer than 100 days in office, Abbott executed a dramatic retreat from global responsibility. She lays out an agenda for a responsible G20 and urges the G20 to re-commit to its 2009 promise to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, which are drivers of climate change. Milne states “This is a stark example of the G20’s unfinished and important business. Let's work to restore this goal to its rightful place: the top of the agenda.” Due to U.S. pressure, the issue remains on the agenda. (See box, “The U.S.-Australian Struggle over Fossil Fuel Subsidies.)
According to “Using the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to Limit Fossil Fuel Subsidies?” (“Must Read” column, p. 7), attorneys at Georgetown Law describe how worldwide fossil fuel consumption and production subsidies, which totalled about $650 billion in 2012, could be reallocated to create jobs and promote renewable energy. This paper, which was prepared for the European Greens Group, suggests that TTIP debates could be a vehicle to promote a binding international agreement to limit fossil fuel subsidies.
In “The Think20 (T20) Advises the Australian G20 Presidency,” Alan Alexandroff, Director of Online Research and the Global Summitry Project at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto describes how a December meeting of the T20 in Sydney, Australia produced articles by the 30 participants on the priority areas of: the G20 economic/finance process; trade liberalization; infrastructure; and development. The collection, “Think20 Papers 2014: Policy Recommendations for the Brisbane G20 Summit,” was published by the Lowy Institute and presented to the Australian Sherpa. (See “Must Read” column, p. 11.)
Alexandroff highlights the key priorities of Prime Minister Abbott (e.g., trade, infrastructure, taxation and banking) and makes policy recommendations in these areas and others, such as macroeconomics, and performance of the multilateral development banks. He emphasizes that the T20 believes that development needs to be ‘mainstreamed’ in the G20 growth agenda and, even if the G20 does not embrace a strong development agenda, it needs to get serious about financing climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Perspectives on the BRICS
Since the Summit of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) is tentatively scheduled for July 15-16 in Forteleza Brazil, this “G20-BRICS Update” focuses on several perspectives from those countries.
In, “The BRICS: The Struggle for Global Hegemony in a Multi-Polar World,” Graciela Rodriguez, Coordinator of Instituto EQUIT and Member of REBRIP (Brazilian Network for the Integration of the People) describes the perils of and promise for the BRICS to supplant the orthodox neoliberal model with a state-led economic system. She identifies the two key initiatives of the BRICS: the creation of the BRICS Bank and the Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA). These initiatives and the possibility of conducting trade among the BRICS in national currencies have the potential to provide protection from the cyclical crises of transnational and financial capital and promote a new model of development.
In “Missing Political Will? Brazil’s Leadership of the 2014 BRICS Summit,” Oliver Stuenkel, Assistant Professor of International Relations, Getulio Vargas Foundation, Brazil, describes the opportunity for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to make her mark when she convenes the 6th BRICS Summit (probably in July). Yet, she never really warmed to the idea of the BRICS and her foreign policy team faces a tough challenge: to maintain momentum and show that Brazil benefits from being part of the group.
In “Club Governance: Prospects for civil society engagement,” Vitaliy Kartamyshev, Co-Chair of GCAP Russia and President, Foundation ‘Coalition Against Poverty,’ remarks on how years of global economic expansion only deepened levels of inequality. He analyses the geopolitical importance of the BRICS, their role in fostering results-oriented policies, and the opportunities and challenges for civil society engagement in fora, such as the BRICS.
Two “Must Reads” (p. 15-16) describe “Views from India.” In “The Global Economic Chessboard and the Role of the BRICS: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa,” Professor Jayati Ghosh of Jawaharlal Nehru University describes the need for BRICS to enhance diversification in exports and bilateral currency trade; address income and asset inequality; integrate the views of developing countries; and avoid replicating the patterns of North-South interaction (for instance, where the North keeps the monopoly of high-value-added production).
In, “A long-term vision for BRICS, Submission to the 2013 Academic Forum,” India’s official think tank, the Observer Research Foundation outlines its perspectives on BRICS’ priorities. Its views on the BRICS Bank are especially notable because the Indian government has asked it to draft a design of the BRICS Bank during 2014. .