G20 leaders miss major opportunity to be bold on climate

g20 leaders

Creative Commons: Tobias Scheck, 2011

Less than two weeks out from the UN climate talks in Paris, G20 leaders, meeting in Turkey this week, missed a major opportunity to take a bold stand on climate change.

While G20 leaders joined the world in reeling from Friday’s terrorist attacks in the French capital, and with security understandably dominating the two-day summit, on climate change they fell short of building greater momentum towards a meaningful global climate agreement.

Celia Gautier from Climate Action Network France said:

Heads of State completely missed the point: as long as hundreds of billion of public dollars in fossil fuel subsidies are fueling climate change and its devastating consequences, we won’t be able to build the world of solidarity, with a stable climate and 100% renewable energy we need.

Ahead of the meeting, hundreds of thousands of people joined global calls on governments to uphold promises to phase out fossil fuel subsidies and support growing calls for a future free from fossil fuels and powered by 100 per cent renewable energy.

By putting a date on the end of fossil fuel subsidies, and agreeing to stop funding fossil fuel projects around the world, leaders meeting in Turkey could have provided a clear and powerful signal ahead of the UN climate talks in Paris.

But instead the G20 outcome merely rehashed vague pledges to phase out “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies and offered weak reaffirmations of their commitment to a 2C limit to global warming .

Research last week showed that G20 governments pump $452 billion per year in production subsidies alone – four times more than global renewables subsidies.

Meanwhile, with a minority of countries blocking progress, the communique failed to even mention key elements of the Paris climate agreement, including climate finance, a mechanism to ramp up climate ambition regularly overtime and a long-term decarbonisation goal.

Samantha Smith, Global Climate and Energy Initiative Lead at WWF-International said:

The G20 summit was a chance for the world’s leading greenhouse gas polluters to take immediate action to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and move the world to a 100 per cent renewable energy future. Wealthy G20 countries could also have made more commitments on climate finance and technology access, both of which are essential for developing countries to cut emissions at scale and adapt to impacts. Unfortunately, those opportunities were missed.

By failing to act G20 heads of state have been left at odds with the citizens, cities and businesses increasingly taking the lead in scaling up the clean energy transition.

As attention now shifts to Malta for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting – the final high-level meeting before the UN climate conference – and then to the conference in Paris itself, forward-looking developing nations and people around the world will be fighting to ensure their voices are heard in the coming days to ensure the momentum picks up again rapidly.

Ümit Şahin from İklim İçin (For the Climate Campaign) said:

We must hope that these Leaders display the leadership in Paris that they failed to deliver here in Turkey on all matters to do with climate change, the most pressing of our global problems. The world is depending on it and the world is most certainly watching.

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