Statement on the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bankers meeting 2024

The people and communities of the Global South are suffering multiple crises, made worse by global rule makers that favor corporate interests over the needs of people and the planet. The Group of 20 (G20) countries — and the handful of Group of 7 (G7) countries that control it — impose these rules and false solutions. It strengthens a global architecture that contributes to the worsening of the climate crisis and multiplies the difficulties of millions of lives in the Global South in ever greater measure. At a time when public funds are desperately needed for peoples’ needs and rights, the G20, together with the G7 and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) advance their tax deal for the rich which only reinforces inequalities in the global tax regime. It continues to promote failed, flawed and futile debt reduction measures while failing to address the rise of private lenders as sources of public debts and requiring them to participate in any form of debt relief. The G20’s concern for the climate crisis rings hollow in the face of its promotion of false solutions and false financing schemes, and its inaction over developed countries’ continued subsidies for fossil fuels and failure to fulfill climate finance obligations.

On the debt crisis and long-standing demand for debt cancellation
Alongside regressive taxes and economic policies that favor the rich, peoples of the Global South bear the burden of an unprecedented debt crisis, for loans incurred in their name but have led to their greater deprivation and impoverishment, and the destruction of their environment. The G20’s so-called debt relief efforts, specifically the Common Framework, have not resulted in relief at all, but in fact only served to tighten the noose around borrowing countries, at an unprecedented scale. Hardly “common”, this scheme also privileges private lenders by giving them a free pass out of debt relief participation. Without debt cancellation, the sharp debt accumulation of Global South countries in recent years, only serves to bail out banks and private lenders.

Many Southern governments, also complicit with the G20, have cut their public expenditures for social services in favor of prioritizing debt service. But the G20 pays no heed, just like other “human rights-free zones” such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank which also refuse to participate in debt relief to protect their triple-A credit ratings. With the support of the G20, rich-country lenders and these international financial institutions continue to aggressively peddle loans as the solution to the crisis of development finance in the Global South. Despite their denials, austerity conditionalities which include anti-labor wage caps, privatization, and the tacit exploitation of women’s unpaid care work. 

Southern movements have long demanded the cancellation of debts, especially of illegitimate debts that have only worked to our mal-development. 

As the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meet, we reiterate the demand for the unconditional cancellation of the debts of the Global South. There is no measure more concrete in bringing about the debt relief that the G20 purports to seek, than the cancellation of the alleged debts of the South. We call on developing countries in the G20 to listen to the growing demand worldwide for debt cancellation and the establishment of a multilateral UN-hosted mechanism for debt resolution, where the developing world has a chance of being heard in contrast to the narrow and opaque decision-making spaces of the G20/G7, the IMF and the World Bank.

On the G20’s agenda to discuss an international tax reform and the Global South’s demand for making taxes work for people and planet
Tax abuses and other types of illicit financial flows continue to strip developing countries of revenues needed to finance basic social services and address  the worsening impacts of the climate crisis. Women in the Global South suffer from the current tax regimes as their economic realities are exacerbated by regressive taxation on basic goods that households need to survive. Tax and economic policies work in favor of corporations, wealthy individuals, and governments of developed countries. Domestic resource mobilization, through progressive taxation and international tax policy reforms through the United Nations, are among the many measures urgently needed to curb the tide of rising inequality and arrest the climate crisis.

The G20 and OECD have been pushing an international tax agenda that does not serve the interests of peoples and countries of the Global South. The G20-OECD Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting does not offer a real solution to the global problem of offshore corporate tax abuses and illicit financial flows.

We need an inclusive, democratic, transparent, and accountable global tax governance under the United Nations (UN) auspices. The UN General Assembly’s adoption of Resolution 78/230 on International tax cooperation ushered in a historic opportunity to ‘right the wrongs’ and fix the flaws of the international tax system. During the first intergovernmental negotiation on the UN Tax Convention on 20-22 February 2024 many governments showed great willingness to engage and move the UN tax process forward. G20 countries should fully support and engage in the UN tax process towards a new UN Framework Convention on International Tax Cooperation, help ensure civil society participation in the process, and place the interests of people and the planet – equitable taxing rights across countries and tax justice to address inequalities and deliver climate action – front and center of international tax negotiations.    

On the phase out of fossil fuels 
G20 countries are responsible for 80 percent of the world’s emissions and 93 percent of operating coal power plants. In 2009, G20 leaders agreed to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels in the medium-term to reduce emissions by 10 percent by 2050. In 2021, the G20 also committed to “mobilize international public and private finance to support green, inclusive and sustainable energy development” and to “put an end to the provision of international public finance for new unabated coal power generation abroad by the end of 2021.” 

Despite these pledges, G20 countries continue to pour massive amounts of funds to fossil fuels. Public financial flows to fossil fuels in G20 countries reached a record 1.4 trillion USD in 2022, more than four times the average in the previous decade. The G20 also failed to make any progress on fossil fuel phaseout. The 2023 Leaders’ Declaration did not specify a timeline for fossil fuel phase out. It merely urged countries to accelerate “efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power”.     

We take exception to the G20’s continued sidestepping of its crucial responsibility in the global fight against climate change.

We demand the G20 to fulfill its pledge to end public financing of fossil fuels by removing all subsidies, not just so-called inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, to stop fossil fuel expansion in its tracks. We likewise demand the G20 to commit to a Paris-aligned policy and timeline for fossil fuel phase out that does not exempt carbon removal and abatement technologies. The transition to renewables must be spurred by a rapid phase out of fossil fuels, a large part of which must be delivered through the cumulative efforts of the world’s largest economies.

On the urgency of Global North countries in the G20 to deliver on climate finance obligations
Climate finance is an obligation of the Global North countries as part of reparations for their huge share of responsibility for the climate crisis. This obligation is very clear in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is an obligation that Global North governments have consistently failed and even outrightly refused to meet in full. The actual sums of Climate Finance delivered to the South is outrageously miniscule compared to the scale of their obligations and the need.

Climate Finance is needed for urgent climate actions to secure the lives and livelihoods of people and communities, build resilience,  cover the costs of loss and damage and pursue real solutions to stop the crisis and build a better world.

We demand full reparations for the climate debt owed to the people of the South –  derived from centuries-old extraction of Global South resources, ecological destruction, capitalist production and consumption, and the resulting excessive emissions of greenhouse gases that have led to the climate crisis. 

We demand Global North countries to urgently deliver unconditional, grants-based, and non-debt-creating climate finance without adding to the debt burdens of the people and communities, who are the least responsible for the crisis we face.

We also urge Global South governments to demand reparations from the Global North and fully advocate for the needs and rights of its people grappling with the worsening polycrises. 

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