The G20 2023 Summit at India

This weekend, India is hosting the 18th G20 Summit 2023, themed ‘One Earth – One Family -One Future’, with a clear message glaring right back at us: Sustainability! 

Of course, we also have prioritised climate finance, green development, UN’s SDGs and low-carbon technologies for the agenda. 

Here are some points to note based on my quick research; please download the table to follow my comparison:

  1. Australia (belonging to the global north) is the second-largest country relying on fossil fuel, yet its potential for green transition is far from the top 10.
  2. China and India (considered historical polluters) are emerging economies, the most populous countries — heavily dependent on fossil fuels — but are leading the renewable energy transition. 
  3. The US belongs to the global north, has been a historical polluter and a colonising nation, the third largest country in the world, but the population is nowhere close to that of India or China. It is a developed, industrialised country consuming the most energy from fossil fuels but is now leading the renewable energy transition.
  4. The worst-case scenarios are France, Germany, the UK, Italy, Japan and some countries belonging to the EU with heavy reliance on fossil fuels. At least Japan and Germany are in the top 10 when we look at renewable energy powers of the world. Also, countries in the EU like Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, and Finland make the ‘green’ news; we cannot negate that.
  5. Having been colonised, Brazil (belonging to the global south) is now an emerging economy, 5th largest country globally, ranking third for renewable energy capacity.

The irony is that countries that colonised and plundered many nations without giving them any chance at resilience from economic shocks, human-caused climate change, and climate disasters are deciding on pathways to transition to sustainable development. These countries also underwent a massive industrial revolution (with heavy reliance on fossil fuels, rolling on a ridiculous amount of wealth) and caused historical pollution. They should be making decisions about how they can redeem themselves, however:

  1. Countries heavily dependent on fossil fuels (causing global warming) must not make other countries pay and are not entitled to speak for countries that aren’t polluting so much. However, most front-line countries (belonging to the global south) do not have a seat at the table. At least, some, like China and India, are racing to be the renewable energy powers of the world, unlike France or the UK — ridiculous — because look at the size of these countries or their population?! Look at India’s scenario: it is 1/3rd the size of the USA, but its population is more than four times that of the USA. According to the World Resources Institute, US and Russia ranked one and two as the top GHG emitters while India ranked at ten! However, India is leading the renewable energy transition, despite being a developing nation (and being an Indian, I am proud of this fact).
  2. Russia and The USA have gained notoriety for some of the largest countries of the global north for their historical pollution, colonisation and wars. They may be in the top ten leading the renewable energy transition, but both must do much better to be absolved of their crimes. 

India must speak for the global south, especially the poorer countries and developing economies. However, we must also look at ourselves while playing the lobbyist. Our country has an appalling rich-poor divide; we are going nowhere without equitable development. 

The solution is a sustainable transition for all countries, big or small, rich or poor, as all share the same sky.

I have done a very primitive analysis; things aren’t black and white as geopolitics are all compassing than the universe. I may have had several things wrong, and I am still learning. I would love for you to educate me and give me more stats/facts/ research details to look at this issue better. If I have missed anything (especially Saudi Arabia, LOL), please feel free to add those while keeping the comments respectful.

PS: I have hyperlinked the sources in-line on the doc.

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The analysis piece is authored by Deepa Sai

Published by ecoHQ

ecoHQ is a platform advocating for sustainability and conscious consumerism in India. At ecoHQ, we help Indians make educated choices about sustainable practices through awareness, advocacy and accountability. We spread awareness about sustainable development, advocate conscious growth and help brands be accountable for responsible solutions. Our ultimate goal is educating you to make the right choices for our people and planet.

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