World leaders gather in Hangzhou, China for the 11th G20 Leaders Summit. Photo: AFP

By Deirdre Fulton
5 September 2016

(Common Dreams) – Despite calls from environmental leaders, major insurance companies, global investors, and climate groups, the G20 has failed to put a deadline on phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, yet again.

German press agency DPA reported Monday that a late draft of the G20 Leaders' Communique "did not mention plans to fulfill a promise the G20 made seven years ago to put an end to controversial fossil fuel subsidies."

That recalcitrance runs counter to wide swaths of public opinion. 

An open letter (pdf) in June from more than 200 civil society organizations called for a 2020 cut-off date, warning that the estimated $444 billion in G20 subsidies to the fossil fuels industry "are locking in long­-lived, high-­emitting infrastructure and unlocking new fossil fuel reserves." Bloomberg, in an editorial last week, called fossil fuel subsidies "an egregious policy failure that has been allowed to persist for far too long."

On the heels of the U.S. and China formally doing so on Saturday, the entire G20 did pledge to join the Paris climate agreement, with the communique saying leaders "expect a rapid implementation of the agreement in all its dimensions."

But that deal—already limited in its ability to curtail global warming—is just lip service without action on subsides, said Oil Change International senior campaigner Alex Doukas on Monday.

"On China's watch, G20 leaders have again failed to set a deadline to end fossil fuel subsidies, despite first agreeing to do so in 2009," Doukas said. "Time is running out. Every dollar wasted on fossil fuel subsidies pushes us closer to climate disaster and makes the transition to clean energy more difficult. As more governments take the important step of ratifying the Paris Agreement on climate change, they must stop giving handouts to big polluters, which undermine the spirit and the letter of the Paris deal."

Li Shuo, Greenpeace East Asia's senior climate policy adviser, echoed that charge, declaring: "Handing out money to the fossil fuel industry is simply not compatible with the Paris Agreement." [more]

With 'Time Running Out,' G20 Fails on Fossil Fuel Subsidies


By Joanna Chiu and Andreas Landwehr
5 September 2016

(DPA) – All members of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies are expected to join the first universal action plan to mitigate the impacts of climate change, according to a late draft of the G20 summit communique seen by DPA on Sunday.

"We commit to complete our respective domestic procedures in order to join the Paris Agreement as soon as our national procedures allow," the draft read.

US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping jointly entered their countries into the Paris climate agreement on Saturday, bringing the total number of ratified countries up to 26.

The agreement will enter into force 30 days once 55 countries accounting for at least 55 per cent of global greenhouse emissions ratify it.

Activists at Greenpeace were sceptical of the agreement's impact, saying that the "G20 summit threatens to be a flop."

Criticizing a lack of additional commitments, Tobias Munchmeyer, Greenpeace's political unit deputy director, told dpa that "after China and the US showed leadership, the G20 seems to not want to go forward."

Last December in Paris, nearly 200 countries agreed to cut emissions with a goal of keeping the increase in average global temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The G20 communique draft did not mention the 100 billion dollars that signatories had agreed to mobilize by the year 2020 to help developing countries combat climate change.

It also did not mention plans to fulfill a promise the G20 made seven years ago to put an end to controversial fossil fuel subsidies. [more]

G20 leaders pledge to join Paris Agreement on climate change

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