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Africa and the G20’s Moment of Truth

LAGOS – This year is turning out to be one of global disruption. We’re seeing not only political upheaval and economic uncertainty, but also transformational innovation and the emergence of fresh thinking.

Global-governance institutions are facing many challenges: slowing economic growth, volatile financial markets, falling commodity prices, emerging-economy risks (especially in China), refugee and migrant waves, geopolitical tensions, rising inequality and social fragmentation, and the threat of violent extremism. That’s why, in an increasingly atomized and uncertain world, political leaders should commit to a new multilateralism at this month’s G20 summit in Hangzhou, China.

Specifically, to make good on the summit’s theme – “Toward an innovative, invigorated, interconnected, and inclusive world economy” – G20 governments should focus on financial stability and sustainable growth in developed as well as developing countries, especially in Africa. A successful summit requires member governments to reaffirm – and expand upon – commitments in four areas.

First, G20 countries must acknowledge that energy, climate, and development are closely interrelated and stop subsidizing carbon emissions. Many G20 countries are currently spending billions of dollars subsidizing efforts to tap new coal, oil, and gas reserves. Rather than using taxpayers’ money to fuel climate change, these governments should be pricing carbon out of the market through taxation (an imperative that is especially relevant for Africa, which will pay the highest price for potential climate catastrophes, despite having contributed very little to the problem).