G20 Dashes Green Hope To Get Serious About Climate Change

  • Date: 05/09/16
  • Shelagh Whitley, Climate Home

Today, hopes that this would be the year the G20 finally get serious on climate change were well and truly dashed, as the world’s most powerful countries failed to set an end date for fossil fuel subsidies.

Instead, they issued yet another cut and paste communiqué (French language version), reaffirming for the eighth time in as many years their ‘medium term commitment to rationalise and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies’.

These 20 countries – the richest in the world, pocketing 80% of the world’s GDP – have the greatest capacity to act on climate change. They are also responsible for 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and must lead by example.

So, what’s the hold up?

There are different views within the G20 about how fast to move on phasing out subsidies. The G7, EU and Mexico have been leading the charge for a 2025 deadline, while a handful of countries have sought to block the move.

This year, however, the world’s biggest polluters China and the US did engage in a peer review process for the first time, feeding back on each other’s fossil fuel subsidies.

If ever made public, this may provide a small step towards greater transparency, but in the context of the radical pace of change needed to decarbonise our energy systems, it is no more than a token gesture.

Fossil fuel subsidies incompatible with climate commitments

According to a new study, current G20 climate pledges under the Paris Agreement fall way short of what is needed. In fact, they need a six-fold increase in emission cuts up to 2030 – sticking to their current plans will almost certainly push the world beyond the two degree limit.

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