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First Meeting of G20 Environment and Energy Ministers

Brittaney Warren, G20 Research Group
June 22, 2019

On June 15-16, 2019, the G20 environment ministers met for the first time. They met alongside the G20 energy ministers, who have met three times before — in 2015 in Istanbul, 2016 in Beijing and 2018 in Bariloche, Argentina. This was therefore an innovative meeting on two fronts: G20 environment ministerial commitments were made for the first time and joint environment-energy commitments were made for the first time. This matters, as preliminary research by the G20 Research Group shows that when a same-subject pre-summit ministerial meeting is held, compliance with the commitments the G20 leaders make on that subject tends to rise. Given that the G20 accounts for over 80% of global gross domestic product, 65% of the world's citizens, and 75% of global trade and global greenhouse gas emissions, the environment, climate and energy commitments that it and its ministers make have an impact on the people the leaders' govern when they go home after the summit ends.

At the 2019 joint meeting, held in Karuizawa, Japan, the ministers made 79 collective, politically binding, future-oriented commitments (see Appendix A). However, only 12 of these were committed to by both the energy and environment ministers, with the rest falling under each ministry's respective portfolios. Of these 79 commitments, 39 fall under the energy ministers' purview and 28 are in the environment ministers' domain. The ministers' jointly committed to mobilize finance, including private finance, and to promote nature-based solutions, innovation and improved business environments.

The environment ministers primary focus was on marine plastics litter and, from that, the circular economy and resource efficiency. Their secondary focus was on adaptation and resilience, in particular for infrastructure.

The energy ministers, having had three previous meetings under different G20 hosts, had a foundation to build on and to continue and thus a broader agenda. Their central theme was the transformation of energy systems with innovation as the preferred solution. Here the energy ministers made commitments on hydrogen, renewable energy, and carbon capture and storage and utilization. They also reiterated the leaders still unfulfilled commitment, first made at the 2009 Pittsburgh Summit, to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies over the medium term. Here, however, they did not advance the commitment beyond another word-for-word iteration. There is no evidence from the G20 Research Group's analysis that merely iterating a commitment improves compliance. They also committed to expand natural gas, a cleaner-than-coal fossil fuel, but one more potent than either coal or oil in terms of the global-warming methane it produces that is 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

The 2019 energy ministers' agenda indeed built upon their preceding ministerials. There is some evidence of a rising trend in the number of commitments made over time. At the first meeting in 2015, the energy ministers made 20 commitments and at the second in 2016 they made 25. There was a drop to 18 commitments from the 2018 meeting. But this was consistent with the leaders-level commitment count, whose commitment-making performance was among the weakest, in terms of quantity, since leaders started meeting in 2008. But under the more experienced leadership of Japan, the energy ministers made more commitments than before with 39, increasing to 51 if the joint energy-environment commitments are included.

This suggests that the G20 leaders' energy and environment agenda at Osaka could well include higher commitment-making performance than it did at Buenos Aires last year. Indeed, previous analysis suggests that the more commitments the ministers make, the more their leaders will make on that subject. This, in turn, can help improve implementation of those commitments after the summit ends, although more research is needed here.

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Appendix A: 2019 Energy and Environment Ministers Commitments

Table 1: Total Number of Energy and Environment Ministers' Commitments

Ministerial Total number of commitments
Both ministerials 12
Energy ministers 39
Environment ministers 28
Total 79

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Table 2: Energy and Environment Ministers' Commitments in the 2019 Joint Communiqué

Communiqué Issue Number of commitments
Both Ministerials Nature-based solutions 1
Mobilizing finance 1
Total 2
Energy Ministers Energy systems (general) 5
Energy innovation 5
Energy efficiency 2
Renewable energy 1
Nuclear energy 1
Natural gas 2
Fossil fuel subsidy phase-out 1
Energy access 3
Total 20
Environment Resource efficiency 2
Marine plastic litter 3
Adaptation/resilience 2
Total 7
Overall total 29

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Table 3: Energy and Environment Ministers' Commitments in the Innovation Action Plan

Innovation Action Plan Issue Number of commitments
Both ministerials Innovation 3
Mobilize private finance 6
Improve business environments 1
Total 10
Energy Ministers Innovation 1
Energy efficiency 1
Renewable energy 3
Hydrogen 2
Carbon capture 2
Digitization 1
Power systems 2
Nuclear 2
Natural gas 4
Energy access 1
Total 19
Overall total 29

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Table 3: Energy and Environment Ministers' Commitments in the Framework for Marine Plastic Litter

Implementation Framework for Marine Plastic Litter Issue Number of Commitments
Environment Ministers Marine plastic litter 21
Overall total   21

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Table 5: 2019 G20 Energy and Environment Ministers' Commitments

Communiqué (29)

2019-1: We promote solutions, including nature based solutions that have multiple benefits. (both)

2019-2: We support efforts to mobilize finance and to improve the market and investment environment for various energy options, innovative technologies and quality infrastructure that enhance energy access, resilience, sustainability, cleaner environment and water access. (both)

Energy

2019-3: The G20 Energy Ministers stress the need to successfully transform energy systems, by increasing investments in cleaner technologies (energy)

2019-4: [The G20 Energy Ministers stress the need to successfully transform energy systems, by]… cooperation in energy efficiency and deployment of renewables (energy)

2019-5: [The G20 Energy Ministers stress the need to successfully transform energy systems, by]… delivering the policy, financial and business environment necessary to promote and support energy innovation in line with the spirit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, recognizing that fossil fuels still play a major role in the energy transitions. (energy)

2019-6: The G20 Energy Ministers promote the cleaner use of various energy sources (energy)

2019-7: The G20 Energy Ministers … facilitate open, transparent, and competitive energy markets. (energy)

Energy Innovation

2019-8: In the framework of energy transitions, the G20 Energy Ministers considering individual country circumstances, stress the need to accelerate energy innovation, recognizing the critical role of innovative, clean and efficient technologies, including digitalization, renewable energy and systems flexibility, demand side management, energy efficiency, biofuels, advanced nuclear, and advanced and cleaner fossil fuels technologies considering individual country circumstances.

2019-9: The G20 members [encourage relevant international organizations to support international collaboration and analyze the impact of innovative technologies and] will share best practices for the development, dissemination and deployment of these technologies in particular on policies, national experiences, and market frameworks. (energy)

2019-10: The G20 Energy Ministers support further international cooperation on sustainable biofuels and bioenergy (energy)

2019-11: [The G20 Energy Ministers support further international cooperation on]… innovative technologies for sector coupling, e.g. power to X and heat pumps in all sectors including the industrial sector, heating cooling and desalination, depending on national circumstances. (energy)

2019-12: The G20 Energy Ministers will step up existing international efforts to unlock the potential of hydrogen as a clean, reliable and secure source of energy including cooperation in research and development, evaluating hydrogen's technical and economic potential, cost reduction pathways and addressing the various challenges including regulations and standards. (energy)

Energy Efficiency

2019-13: the G20 Energy Ministers [note the energy efficiency analysis such as Global Energy Efficiency Benchmark work undertaken by the IEA, which includes Well to Wheel analysis.] They will further explore the potential and impact of energy efficiency, in such areas as heating and cooling, and buildings through international cooperation and sharing best practices. (energy)

2019-14: The G20 Energy Ministers encourage policy actions to significantly scale up investments and financing in energy efficiency across all sectors to help to achieve the energy transitions. (energy)

Renewable Energy

2019-15: The G20 Energy Ministers will work together with support of international organizations such as IRENA, IEA, ISA, and the Biofuture Platform, to promote innovative solutions for accelerating the major potential of renewable energies. (energy)

Nuclear Energy

2019-16: [For those countries that opt to continue utilizing nuclear energy, it can contribute to energy security, access to baseload power and reducing and/or avoiding emissions.] Those countries intend to promote innovation, including through international cooperation on new developments, in small modular reactors and advanced reactors, and to improve the business environment for nuclear energy. (energy)

Fossil Fuels

2019-17: The G20 Energy Ministers reiterate the importance of transparent, liquid, flexible, stable and competitive global energy markets. (energy)

2019-18: The G20 Energy Ministers support enhancing natural gas security, including LNG, through sharing of best practices and knowledge for supply security as well as for emergency response. (energy)

Inefficient Fossil Fuel Subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption

2019-19: In 2009, the Pittsburgh Leaders Declaration called for medium term rationalization and phasing-out of Inefficient Fossil Fuel Subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption, while providing targeted support for the poorest. The G20 Energy Ministers reaffirm this joint commitment. (energy)

Energy Access and Affordability

2019-20: The G20 Energy Ministers welcome progress made on improving energy access globally, and reaffirm our commitments to promote universal energy access, in line with the spirit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. (energy)

2019-21: The G20 Energy Ministers will explore ways to further advance energy access as well as productive use of energy. (energy)

2019-22: Building upon the past works of the G20, and with support of relevant international organizations, the G20 Energy Ministers will engage with other interested countries to explore effective ways to enhance implementation of regional action plans, taking into account the need to provide displaced people and disaster impacted and remote areas with energy access. (energy)

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Environment

Resource Efficiency and Marine Plastic Litter

Resource Efficiency

2019-23: We promote various bilateral and multilateral partnerships at regional and global level including public-private partnerships, in order to facilitate actions and build necessary capacity for sustainable, efficient, and effective use of resources, including environmentally sound management of waste, as well as that derived from natural disasters, which could be one of additional sources of marine litter. (environment)

2019-24: We accelerate initiatives to reduce food loss and food waste, including deployment of innovative technologies for food preservation, efficient and sanitary management of food waste, public awareness and education, and sharing experiences on relevant national actions and policies. (environment)

Marine plastic litter

2019-25: Considering its durable and ubiquitous nature, we reiterate that measures to address this issue need to be taken nationally and internationally by all countries in partnership with relevant stakeholders, while noting that plastics play an important role in our economies and daily lives. (environment)

2019-26: We are determined to drive measures to resolve this issue and swiftly take appropriate national actions, including through collaborating with the international community, for the prevention and significant reduction of discharges of plastic litter and microplastics to the oceans through a life-cycle approach. (environment)

2019-27: We will work with relevant international and regional instruments, organizations and initiatives, including but not limited to the United Nations Environment Programme, in a coordinated manner in order to maximize effectiveness and efficiency, and to avoid duplication of efforts. (environment)

II. Adaptation and resilient infrastructure including ecosystem-based approaches

2019-28: We, therefore, will continue to promote international cooperation to share relevant information, best practices and experiences, including indigenous and local knowledge, among various stakeholders. (environment)

2019-29: We intend to engage with the private sector to enhance adaptation efforts by mobilizing private finance and investment for resilient transformations, recognizing that adaptation provides new opportunities for business, while bearing in mind the important role of public finance and the importance of deploying innovative, environmentally sound technologies and approaches. (environment)

G20 Karuizawa Innovation Action Plan (29)

Energy and Environment

Actions to collect wisdom from around the world to encourage innovation

2019-30: We seek to enhance international cooperation in relevant existing fora and encourage, in a holistic manner, research, development and deployment of innovative technologies and approaches including air and water related technologies, behavioral science for life-style change, bioenergy, Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS), clean vehicles, deep renovation and Net Zero Energy Building, demand-side management, energy access technologies, energy efficiency technologies, energy storage, hydrogen, grid digitalization, low carbon technologies, nature-based solutions, renewables, resilient and sustainable cities and communities with integration of technologies, and resource efficient technologies, depending on national circumstances. (both)

2019-31: We support the expansion of networks for innovation globally among industry, academia, and government in coordination with existing efforts. (both)

2019-32: We also promote international collaboration among leading G20 members' research and development institutes, universities and business to advance innovation for clean energy technologies and resource and energy efficiency and to explore further international joint research and development. (both)

Actions to mobilize private finance and investment for development and deployment of innovation

2019-33: We support efforts to mobilize finance and to improve the market and investment environment for various energy options… that enhance energy access, resilience, cleaner environment and water access. (both)

2019-34: [We support efforts to mobilize finance and to improve the market and investment environment for]… innovative technologies…[that enhance energy access, resilience, cleaner environment and water access.] (both)

2019-35: [We support efforts to mobilize finance and to improve the market and investment environment for]…quality infrastructure [that enhance energy access, resilience, cleaner environment and water access.] (both)

2019-36: We support continued effort to mobilize private finance and investment, including from institutional investors, through public finance and risk mitigation measures such as trade insurance, while recognizing that public finance plays an important role. (both)

2019-37: We promote improving business environments for the power sector, including actions that increase security and flexibility of electricity and that embrace innovative storage and distribution technologies, responding to increasing variability due to increasing deployment of renewable energy. (both)

2019-38: We support development of electricity market mechanisms that drive investments in grid and power sources by increasing the predictability of return on investment, such as capacity markets and market distortion avoidance. (both)

Actions to improve business environments and to promote of business activities for dissemination of innovative technologies

2019-39: We explore business matching, workshops and other international collaboration to improve business environments and encourage business activities. (both)

Energy

Preamble

2019-40: [This list does not intend to cover all collaborative or national activities for innovation and] we will continue to explore further opportunities for cooperation. (energy)

Energy efficiency

2019-41: We continue to collaborate on a broad range of issues in support of wasting less energy and energy transitions also through the G20 Energy Efficiency Leading Programme (EELP) (energy)

Renewable energy

2019-42: We share our best practices in accelerating energy innovation including in the use of policy to provide a signal to markets, and implement capacity building programs, management models of electricity system to promote further expansion of renewable energy, recognizing the importance of new flexibility solutions such as demand side management and off-grid solutions and energy storage technologies. (energy)

2019-43: We will strive to share lessons on innovation and technology development to increase direct renewable energy use in the transport, heat and industry sectors. (energy)

2019-44: We also support and encourage the work of the IEA, IRENA, the Biofuture Platform, MI, International Solar Alliance (ISA) and other international initiatives in promoting sustainable bioenergy and other renewable energy development and deployment, and will increase our cooperation under these fora. (energy)

Hydrogen and other synthetic fuels

2019-45: We support the acceleration of our work that will lead to concrete actions which were summarized in the chair's summary at Hydrogen Energy Ministerial Meeting (HEM) 2018, including exchange of best practices, international joint research, evaluation of hydrogen's potential, e.g. for power to x, outreach and addressing regulatory barriers, codes and standards. (energy)

2019-46: We promote further international cooperation and discuss concrete actions through frameworks such as HEM 2019 (autumn), the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), Mission Innovation (MI) and the International Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the Economy (IPHE) (energy)

CCUS/Carbon Recycling/Emissions to Value

2019-47: We strengthen international collaboration on development and deployment of Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS) under the frameworks such as CEM, MI, the International CCUS Summit and the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF). (energy)

2019-48: To explore international cooperation on "Carbon Recycling" and "Emissions to Value" among industry, academia and government, we facilitate discussions on research and development, stable investment environments, and attracting finance for innovative technologies through opportunities such as the International Conference on Carbon Recycling to be held in September 2019. (energy)

Digitalization

2019-49: We also encourage continued work on how to mitigate the potential increased energy demand associated with the digitalization of our economies. (energy)

Power system

2019-50: We strive to share our best practices and future policy insights on power systems in order to expand low emissions investment and demand side management, biomass power generation, electricity storage, increase connectivity, enhance flexibility, and increase resiliency. (energy)

2019-51: We promote knowledge exchange on technologies for system integration of variable renewables under international frameworks such as the IEA, IRENA, MI and CEM, ISA and Biofuture Platform. (energy)

Nuclear

2019-52: Those countries that opt to continue utilizing nuclear energy encourage the progress in exploring opportunities to collaborate on advanced nuclear energy technologies, including small modular reactors, and innovative uses of nuclear energy including integration of nuclear and renewables, and heat usage, in collaboration with relevant international organizations such as International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) , and the IEA and cooperating under international fora including the CEM NICE Future initiative. (energy)

2019-53: Those countries that are using, plan to use or have used nuclear energy support accelerating cooperation on final disposal of high-level radioactive waste, and safe and efficient decommissioning. (energy)

Natural gas and other fossil fuels

2019-54: We further encourage efforts at various international fora to increase market liquidity, flexibility and transparency as well as open fair and transparent competition and cooperation to support the role of natural gas in new sectors such as transportation including bunkering in the maritime industry, and utilization of small scale LNG. (energy)

2019-55: We discuss measures to enhance the security of natural gas such as sharing knowledge and the best practices on mid and long term natural gas supply security as well as on emergency response. (energy)

2019-56: We enhance bilateral and multilateral cooperative frameworks, such as the annual LNG Producer-Consumer Conference, that support development of a flexible and transparent global LNG market as well as enhancing energy security of the LNG value chain, in the context of transitions toward lower emission energy systems. (energy)

2019-57: We promote producer-consumer dialogue as facilitator of stable and transparent market including through the framework of International Energy Forum (IEF). (energy)

Access to Sustainable Modern Energy

2019-58: We highlight the importance and the urgency of advancing universal access to affordable, sustainable and modern energy services and clean cooking facilities, and we will explore ways to enhance the implementation of G20 regional energy action plans. (energy)

Environment

G20 Implementation Framework for Actions on Marine Plastic Litter (21)

I. Facilitation of Effective Implementation of the Action Plan

We will facilitate effective implementation of the G20 Action Plan on Marine Litter through encouraging voluntary actions by the G20 members in accordance with national policies, approaches, and circumstances, and their information sharing and continued updating as follows:

1. Implementation of actions

2019-59: Facilitate the implementation of the G20 members' actions in line with the G20 Action Plan on Marine Litter, based on respective national policies, approaches and circumstances, and in collaboration with Regional Seas Conventions and other relevant organizations and instruments.

2019-60: Promote a comprehensive life-cycle approach to urgently and effectively prevent and reduce plastic litter discharge to the oceans, in particular from land-based sources, through measures, inter alia, environmentally sound waste management, environmentally sound clean-up of marine plastic litter, deployment of innovative solutions, and international cooperation to enhance national capacities, as well as prevention and reduction of plastic waste generation and littering, promotion of sustainable consumption and production, including but not limited to promoting resource efficiency, circular economy, sustainable materials management, waste to value approach, and measures to address sea-based sources.

2. Information sharing and continued updating

2019-61: Share and update information on relevant policies, plans, and measures taken/to be taken in line with the G20 Action Plan on Marine Litter on a voluntary basis

2019-62: Promote policies and measures by peer learning from best practices, utilizing opportunities to co-organize with relevant meetings, inter alia, the G20 Resource Efficiency Dialogue and the multi-stakeholder platform to be established under the UNEP, which will be decided by G20 presidencies.

2019-63: Utilize the opportunity of the G20 Resource Efficiency Dialogue during the Japanese Presidency for the first information sharing

2019-64: Make a portal site available with the support of the Government of Japan for efficient information sharing and updating, and possible outreach.

II. Collaborative Actions and Outreach of Implementation of the Action Plan

In addition to Section I, we will engage in collaborative actions among the G20 members and outreach activities beyond the G20, cooperating with and supported by relevant international and regional organizations and initiatives, while maximizing synergies and avoiding duplication of work, particularly with the work of the UNEP, as follows:

1. Promotion of international cooperation

2019-65: Engage in international and regional cooperation and share best practices through relevant instruments, initiatives, and programs.

2019-66: Promote cooperation among the G20 members and with other partners to empower governments, communities, and the private sector to advance measures mentioned in Section I. 1 including through technical assistance for those who need technical capacity development.

2019-67: Invite relevant international organizations to develop policy tools/options such as best practice guidance for capacity development and infrastructure investment through, inter-alia, public-private partnership to remove barriers to private financing, in cooperation with the G20 members.

2. Promotion of innovative solutions

2019-68: Enhance collaboration internationally to advance innovative solutions such as for product design, resource efficient and circular approaches, waste management practice and technologies, waste water treatment technologies, and environmentally sound products, taking into account their contribution to marine pollution and full life- cycle environmental impact, in cooperation with existing international fora and initiatives, including but not limited to the World Circular Economy Forum, the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy, the G20 Resource Efficiency Dialogue, and the G7 Innovation Challenge to Address Marine Plastic Litter.

2019-69: Encourage relevant actors to take a life-cycle approach in the development and market penetration of innovative solutions to reduce the negative environmental, economic and social impacts.

2019-70: Encourage voluntary activities by the private sector internationally on the advancement of innovative solutions including environmentally sound product design, resource- efficient business models, and value retention practices.

2019-71: Explore ways to support and further facilitate such activities, including through holding relevant workshops in collaboration with business communities.

3. Sharing scientific information and knowledge

2019-72: Encourage the ongoing work of GESAMP (Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection) to strengthen scientific foundations and build scientific capacity including by promoting and piloting harmonized/comparable monitoring and analytical methodologies for measuring and monitoring marine litter, especially marine plastic litter and microplastics and their impact.

2019-73: Encourage the development of global-scale monitoring of marine litter, especially marine plastic litter and microplastics, using harmonized methodologies in cooperation with Regional Seas Conventions and Programmes, the IOC-UNESCO, the UNEP and other relevant organizations and initiatives.

2019-74: Encourage scientific communities and relevant experts to explore ways to identify and estimate the sources, pathways and fate of plastic waste leakage toward the development of global land and sea-based source inventories, including by holding relevant workshops

2019-75: Contribute to the scientific and technological work of the UNEP, while noting that single-use plastics and fishing gears are reported to constitute significant sources.

2019-76: Encourage international coordination on scientific research, including socio-economic research and research on microplastics including nanoplastics

2019-77: [Encourage] the sharing of scientific knowledge such as the impacts of plastic pollution on human health, and marine biodiversity and ecosystems.

4. Multi-stakeholder involvement and awareness raising

2019-78: Collaborate and cooperate with, and empower non-G20 countries, local governments, the private sector, civil society organizations, NGOs, and academia to work in a multi-sector manner and invite them to take actions in line with this framework, including in collaboration with partnerships or networks focused on global marine litter issues.

2019-79: Raise awareness globally on the importance of, among others, urgent and effective actions at all levels to prevent and reduce plastic litter discharge to the oceans, as well as sustainable consumption and production, including but not limited to promoting resource efficiency, circular economy, sustainable materials management, and waste to value, by utilizing opportunities such as "World Environmental Day", "World Oceans Day", and related national awareness days.

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