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G20 Leaders Agree Again to Fight Climate Change?

After 5 years of delays the G-20 Leaders agree (again) to flight Climate Change? It has been enthusiastically reported for several years now that the G20 was going to help combat Climate Change and one of the tools to help make that happen was to phase out Oil Subsidies.

2013 G20 summit3In September 2009:
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania G20 leaders pledged to “rationalize and phase out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption.”

2009 Reporting on G20 Climate Change actions

In 2010: A year later it turned out that these were just words and all they did was repeat them again the next year “important policy action for major economies is to phase out fossil fuel subsidies” but no action was taken. One issue was that each G20 country could define “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” in any manner they wished, which basically allowed them to continue with business as usual. Obviously terms, oversight mechanisms and timetables needed to be agreed upon and implemented.

The G20 meeting in 2011: “Welcomed the creation of a “Rapid Response Forum”, to improve the international community’s capacity to coordinate policies and develop common responses”, which included “pursuing the Fight against Climate Change”.

The G20 also kept singing the previous chorus “We reaffirm our commitment to rationalise and phase-out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption, while providing targeted support for the poorest.”

G20 2011 Conference: Climate Change

In 2012 according to Mikhail Gorbachev, speaking for the Climate Change Task Force, said: “the draft final document of the Rio+20 conference does not give proper attention to climate change…it looks like there is backsliding on this issue.”

The G20 leaders Declaration basically pushed any action on their part to the end of year “We reiterate our commitment to fight climate change and welcome the outcome of the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN climate change conferences…and will work with Qatar as the incoming Presidency towards achieving a successful and balanced outcome at COP-18.”

By the end of 2012 no binding agreement was made, and there was still vast disagreement on how to address Climate Change. The western world continued to stall and blame China, India, and the emerging nations. In addition the industrialized nations continued to discount and disavow their previous contributions to the climate problem.

Just to take a time out from the depressing series of G20 Climate Change action statements here is some comedy relief from Bill Maher making comments about Climate Change Deniers:

Now in 2013: Prior to the G20 meeting EU chief called for the G20 to stop delaying a decision on fossil fuel subsidies.

On September 6th 2013 at the G20 meeting in ST. Petersburg, Russia, leaders agreed to not only phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies (again), but also phase down refrigerant greenhouse gases.

G20's 2013 Leader Declaration

The entire G20 statement in .pdf can be downloaded and viewed

The entire G20 statement in .pdf can be downloaded and viewed, but the G20’s three paragraph statement relating to Pursuing the Fight against Climate Change starts at the bottom of page 24.

Personally I am a bit underwhelmed by the G20’s 2013 statement about Climate Change action, which appears more than just a little reminiscent of their previous statements:

Item #100:
Climate change will continue to have a significant impact on the world economy, and cost will be higher to the extent we delay additional actions. We reiterate our commitment to fight climate change and welcome the outcome of the 18th conference of the Parties to the UN climate change conferences. We are committed to a full implementation of the outcomes of Cancun, Durban and Doha and will work with Poland as the incoming presidency towards achieving a successful outcome at COP 19.

Item #101:
We are committed to support the full implementation of the agreed outcomes under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its ongoing negotiations. We strongly welcome the efforts of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to mobilize political will through 2014 towards the successful adoption of a protocol, another legal instrument, or an agreed outcome with legal force under the convention applicable to all Parties by 2015, during COP-21 that France stands ready to host. We also support complementary initiatives, through multilateral approaches that include using the expertise and the institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), based on the examination of economically viable and technically feasible alternatives. We will continue to include HFCs within the scope of UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol for accounting and reporting of emissions.

Item #102:
Taking note of the developments over the past year, we support the operationalization of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). We welcome the report of the G20 Climate Finance Study Group on G20 countries’ experiences on ways to effectively mobilize climate finance taking into account the objectives, provisions, and principles of the UNFCCC. For the purpose of elaborating on the issues and identifying approaches to climate finance, we ask our Finance Ministers to continue the work building on the working group report and report back to us in one year.

So there you have it! Climate Change, which is perhaps the largest global issue facing the world today and it doesn’t even get mentioned in the G20 statement until the 100th paragraph.

But the good news is that the G20 agrees that they need to act on Climate Change and agree to follow and implement future agreed upon agreements. Such agreements are scheduled to be discussed in the future, for example they look forward to hearing from their Finance Ministers working group report when they report back to them in one year, which translates to yet another year of planned inaction on the part of the G20.

The situation in a nutshell–if the twenty most powerful and economically rich nation states can’t seem to act in the best interest of the global community and agree to take significant steps to implement Climate action in a timely manner then obviously the entire concept of nation states and their chief purpose for existence is inherently flawed and thus have likely outlived their usefulness.

As humans created these nation states and the current climate issues then perhaps optimistically we ultimately have the power to create solutions as well.


Green-Eco-EV News Reporting by Ken Green Burridge

kenneth green burridge

Kenneth Burridge test-drives electric Nissan LEAF in Melbourne Australia

EV of the Year Judge, independent green journalist, photographer, author and sustainability activist that has published over 1000 articles. Mr Burridge’s travels have taken him to over 30 countries and 300+ major cities. He is originally from the USA, but has been residing in Australia for the last seven years. Connect to Ken Burridge on: Twitter, facebook, Google+Linked in or website

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