G20 sets the stage for bold new deal for refugees – but offers little impetus toward a deal on climate change

The G20 leaders’ summit has made welcome progress in tackling the refugee crisis while also taking tentative steps towards addressing the gap between rich and poor. However, the G20 has done little to build momentum toward an ambitious climate deal.

Oxfam’s Deputy Advocacy and Campaigns Director, Steve Price-Thomas, said:

“G20 leaders have shown, in their commitments to refugees, that where there is a political will there’s a way. They must now demonstrate the same level of leadership on the equally critical issues of climate change and inequality.

"The G20’s commitment to a bold new deal for refugees - ensuring their right to work, to access healthcare and education and provide safe and legal routes to other countries - could make a huge difference to the lives of millions of people. The real work begins now - translating these words into action over the next weeks and months.”

“The only thing G20 leaders had to say on climate was ‘see you at the climate summit’. They have two more weeks to demonstrate the leadership needed to secure a successful deal. They must provide more money to help poor countries adapt and commit to revisit and ratchet up their current inadequate national emissions reduction targets.”

“The G20 signalled an important change of direction when it acknowledged you can’t have growth unless you tackle inequality.  If this realization is followed by action – including support for a second generation of corporate tax reforms and more investment in education and healthcare – those at the bottom of the economic pile may, at last, get a foot on the ladder.”

Oxfam analysis – G20 Communique

Refugee crisis: The G20 have recognized, for the first time, the scale of the refugee crisis and the need for a comprehensive approach to address it. The measures outlined in the communique - the right to work, safe and legal routes to third countries, as well as increased aid and investment in countries hosting refugees – could make a real difference in the lives of millions of refugees. The recognition of the need for resettlement and other forms of admission for particularly vulnerable refugees is important. Oxfam has been calling for rich countries to resettle 10 per cent of the refugees in countries neighboring Syria by the end of 2016. Implementing the G20’s commitments will require a concerted effort by G20 countries, international agencies, host countries and the private sector. Urgency is the order of the day, as the situation for refugees continues to deteriorate.

Climate change: The G20 communique offers a fairly bland backing for a climate deal. It makes no progress on the crunch issues of finance, the need for more ambitious emissions reductions in the short term or a long-term goal to fairly phase-out all fossil fuel emissions. The failure of developed countries to signal that they are willing to provide increased levels of finance makes it harder to get a stronger agreement in other areas. Most notably on the need for a mechanism to regularly re-visit and increase the ambition of emissions cuts (the so-called "ratchet" mechanism) as well as agreement on a long term goal to fairly phase-out all fossil fuel emissions. The G20 has had nothing to say on the adaptation funding gap.  Developed countries currently provide an estimated US$4 - $5 billion in grants a year to help poor countries adapt – a fraction of the estimated US150 billion that is needed – yet continue to find billions of dollars in subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.

Inclusive growth: The communique text represents a significant step forward from last year’s summit because it recognizes that inequality contributes to instability, is a drag on growth and needs to be tackled if global growth targets are to be met. The G20 focus on promoting ‘quality’ jobs, particularly for those who left behind, such as youth, is also very welcome. The G20 though must also recognize that ‘good quality’ work means paying a living wage, job security, respect for workers’ rights, and equal pay for women. To tackle inequality G20 leaders must now reject the trickle down economic model and share the proceeds of growth through greater public investment in essential services, such as health and education paid for through a more progressive tax system and cracking down on all forms of tax dodging. They should also recognize that challenges of climate change and inequality are linked and must be addressed together.

Corporate tax reform: The OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) package is a step forward. But until the G20 supports a reform process that truly tackles harmful tax competition, tax havens and multinationals will continue to gain most from this system, and the poorest countries will be the biggest losers. The G20 is promoting its BEPS project for all countries to implement, but three-quarters of the world’s countries had little say in designing these new rules. It is positive that the G20 recognizes the role of other international organizations, like the UN, IMF and World Bank to work with the OECD on the tax reform agenda. These organizations now need to work together with all governments to agree a second generation of tax reforms that build on the BEPS project.

Notes to editors

Oxfam spokespeople from a number of G20 countries are available to give expert analysis and comment on a range of issues including: inclusive growth (inequality), international taxation, climate change, the refugee and migration crisis and gender equality.

Oxfam is an active member of the C20 (Civil 20), the officially-recognized engagement group tasked with representing the views of national and international civil society: www.c20turkey.org.

Contact information

Anna Ratcliff, Oxfam International, in Antalya: +44 (0) 7796993288, anna.ratcliff@oxfaminternational.org, @ratcliff_anna

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