An underwhelming G20 skates over the big issues of poverty, inequality and climate – maybe the African Union can inject some urgency ahead: Oxfam

Published: 9th September 2023

In response to the G20 communique, Oxfam says: "The G20 has failed to meet the huge challenges our world faces. They continue to stumble away from taking the bold actions necessary to tackle poverty, inequality and climate change after an uninspiring and underwhelming Summit in India this weekend.” 

"One bright light was its invitation of a permanent seat for the African Union. Oxfam says the AU must flex this new power as a genuine counterweight within a platform dominated by countries that are historically responsible for stripping the continent of its resources. “This is long-awaited good news,” said Oxfam in Africa Director Fati N’zi-Hassane. “The G20 could now be a more effective multilateralism instrument, provided it is not used to further influence African Union members toward a Global North agenda.  

"The AU must resist the siren’s calls for short-term profit, as inequalities continue to grow inside the continent, and keep pushing to decolonize international financial systems. The AU can play a meaningful role on the G20’s debt relief initiative, for instance, and hold rich countries more accountable now for their many empty commitments, such as failing to spend at least 0.7% of their Gross National Income on development. The AU is in a stronger position to ensure that this promise, and many others, are never broken again,” N’zi-Hassane said. 

"On climate change, G20 leaders leave the Summit with no change to their plans of maintaining their greenhouse gas emissions to levels in 2030 at least double what they should be to stop a rise in global temperature above 1.5 °C. While we welcome language that the G20 aspires to enhance efforts to triple renewable energy capacity, it comes without any plan to actually amend existing policies and targets in order to achieve it. More renewable energy is insufficient without reducing waste and inefficiency, and without a clear commitment to phase out oil, gas and coal – this they failed to do. While recognizing the need for $4 trillion a year to pay for a green energy transition, the G20 refused again to offer any concrete pathway toward it. 

“The richer G20 countries had a choice. On the one hand, climate catastrophe. On the other, to drastically reduce their emissions and provide sufficient levels of climate finance to the Global South. They leave New Delhi having chosen catastrophe with their eyes wide open. If G20 countries do not agree to change their positions on these issues, they are guaranteeing failure at the COP28 conference in Dubai,” said Oxfam Climate Change spokesperson Ashfaq Khalfan.  

 On inequality, tax and development finance: 

 "The gap between the rich world and the rest is growing faster than at any time since World War Two,” said Oxfam Inequality spokesperson Max Lawson. “By 2030, low and middle-income countries face a $27 trillion black hole to pay for climate-related loss and damages, measures to help adapt to climate impacts and to reduce emissions, along with their health, education and social protection needs.  The G20 didn’t even pony up a fraction of this.’ 

"The money can easily be found if the G20 choose to look. Higher taxes on the mega-wealthy could raise at least $1.1 trillion, and taxes on the huge windfall profits in the fossil fuel, food and other sectors could raise another $1 trillion. Across the world, hundreds of millions do not have enough money to feed their children, and whole nations are facing bankruptcy. The G20 must tax these corporate fat cats and their billionaire owners to feed the world and stop climate breakdown.

"Despite the clear logic and rationale, the G20 failed to do anything to increase taxes. However, it looks likely that Brazil will make inequality and taxing the rich a key part of their G20 presidency next year.  This would be a real breakthrough."

Contact information

Matt Grainger /, +4407730680837 

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