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Climate change issues likely to be one of top points at Osaka G20 summit: Jacques Attali

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

Dealing with various climate change-related issues is likely to be one of the top points of discussion at the Group of 20 Leaders’ Summit in Osaka next June, Jacques Attali, one of the world’s most prominent nongovernmental organization leaders, said in an interview with The Japan Times on Tuesday.

Attali, who worked as a special adviser to former French President Francois Mitterrand, is the founder and president of Positive Planet, an NGO that works in France and 35 countries to create conditions for sustainable development. Attali was visiting Hiroshima to attend the two-day World Business Conference for World Peace through Tuesday, which is supported by The Japan Times.

Positive Planet has strong ties with the G20, although Attali is both a critic of, and adviser to, the forum.

“When the first G20 took place, I said it was just a photo-op, not a real governing organization. But year after year, the meetings have crystallized. People are coming to the meetings. It’s true that, in a world where the whole of global governance is falling apart, it’s very important to keep the G20,” he said.

Given the rise of U.S. President Donald Trump and his “America First” policy, as well as growing nationalist sentiment in many G20 countries, Attali added that a concern for Japan next year is simply ensuring all 20 leaders show up in Osaka.

“A friend of mine in Argentina said the first hope for the G20 Leaders’ Summit Buenos Aires (at the end of this month) is that all 20 leaders actually come. Having all of them present means the world is still together. I do hope in Japan, at least, all of the 20 leaders at the time of the (Osaka) summit attend it,” he said.

Later this month, Positive Planet will host a forum in Paris to discuss 20 proposals related to environmental concerns, living conditions and a sustainable economy.

Expected attendees include Denis Mukwege, co-winner of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, and Vandana Shiva, an Indian author and feminist activist. Afterward, the proposals will be presented to G20 leaders in Buenos Aires.

The list of proposals includes establishing carbon trading prices in all G20 countries by 2025 in order to accelerate the transition to environmentally friendly energy sources, a commitment to fight against overfishing of marine resources, and providing food security. It will also propose giving access to quality medical treatments, especially for generic drugs, and creating and financing state health coverage for everyone.

These issues are likely to be raised in Buenos Aires and, possibly, in Osaka next June, barring last-minute international issues that could completely reset the agenda.

Last year, G20 leaders in Hamburg agreed they would cooperate on climate risk financing and insurance solutions so as to increase resilience among the world’s poorest, who are at the mercy of extreme weather events.

“Sharing the risks and costs of natural disasters is very important and could also be on the G20 agenda next year,” Attali said.

The Japanese government is expected to announce the official G20 Osaka Summit agenda after the Buenos Aires summit concludes in early December.