U.S Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen will travel to India next week to attend Group of 20 finance minister meetings in Bengaluru and will address the global economic impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as her visit coincides with the one-year anniversary of the invasion.
According to the Treasury Department, Yellen’s schedule of events will begin on February 23, 2023, where she plans to give a speech about the state of the economy as the U.S. and its allies assist Ukraine in defending itself against the invasion.
Yellen will also talk about bolstering public digital infrastructure and reforming the multilateral development banks, including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, to make their investment requirements more climate-focused.
This will be the first finance ministers’ meeting since India officially became chair of the Group of 20 leading economies in December, 2022. The Indian government has put climate issues at the top of the group’s priorities.
When the presidency was handed to India, experts disclosed that programs to encourage sustainable living and money for countries to transition to clean energy and deal with the effects of a warming world will be some of the key areas that India will focus on during its presidency.
Some said India will also use its new position to boost its climate credentials and act as a bridge between the interests of industrialized nations and developing ones.
At the U.N. climate conference last November, India, currently the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, proposed a phaseout of all fossil fuels and repeatedly emphasized the need to revamp global climate finance.
Under India’s presidency, The G-20 will also be looking closely at alternative means to getting climate finance, experts say.
The group could potentially take a leaf out of the Bridgetown initiative proposed by the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, which involves unlocking large sums of money from multilateral development banks and international financial institutions to help countries adapt to climate change and transition to cleaner energy.
Samir Saran, President of the Observer Research Foundation, said that as G-20 chair, India can help move forward the conversation on the initiative.
Developing countries are often charged higher rates of interest when borrowing from global financial institutions. Readjusting global finance to make renewable energy more affordable in the developing world is key to curbing climate change, Saran said.
A senior Treasury official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the secretary’s travel plans said Yellen also intends to ask member countries to reduce emissions and will raise funds for climate finance projects to invest in developing countries’ infrastructure, agriculture and renewable sources of energy.
Yellen’s Visit Will Focus On Issues Of Sovereign Debt
The official also said that part of the visit will focus on sovereign debt issues, namely Zambia’s $6 billion debt to China, its biggest creditor.
Yellen visited Lusaka, Zambia’s capital city that’s visibly dominated by Chinese financing, in January, 2023 in part to discuss the country’s massive debt to China.
Zambia became the site of Africa’s first coronavirus pandemic-era sovereign nation to default when it failed to make a $42.5 million bond payment in November 2020. Negotiations over how to deal with the debt load have been ongoing.
Experts say a prolonged debt crisis could permanently prevent countries like Zambia from recovering, leading to an entire nation sliding deeper into poverty and joblessness, and exclude it from credit to rebuild in the future.
“It’s critically important to address it right away,” Yellen told reporters at a morning press conference in Zambia’s National Public Health Institute.
The G-20, made up of the world’s largest economies, has a rolling presidency with a different member state in charge of the group’s agenda and priorities each year.