Monday, September 28, 2009

G-20: "Will Spare No Effort To Reach Agreement In Copenhagen"

Sep 25: Among many other broad, general commitments, the G-20 members meeting in Pittsburgh September 24-25, agreed that they "will spare no effort to reach agreement in Copenhagen," at the UNFCCC COP15 meeting in Denmark scheduled for December 7-18. The G-20 includes the 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S., and a representative of the European Union. Some of the commitments related to energy, climate and sustainability are summarized as follows:

- Our Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth is a compact that commits us to work together to assess how our policies fit together, to evaluate whether they are collectively consistent with more sustainable and balanced growth, and to act as necessary to meet our common objectives.

- Over four billion people remain undereducated, ill-equipped with capital and technology, and insufficiently integrated into the global economy. We need to work together to make the policy and institutional changes needed to accelerate the convergence of living standards and productivity in developing and emerging economies to the levels of the advanced economies. To start, we call on the World Bank to develop a new trust fund to support the new Food Security Initiative for low-income countries announced last summer. We will increase, on a voluntary basis, funding for programs to bring clean affordable energy to the poorest, such as the Scaling Up Renewable Energy Program.

- To phase out and rationalize over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies while providing targeted support for the poorest. Inefficient fossil fuel subsidies encourage wasteful consumption, reduce our energy security, impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to deal with the threat of climate change.

- We call on our Energy and Finance Ministers to report to us their implementation strategies and timeline for acting to meet this critical commitment at our next meeting.

- We will promote energy market transparency and market stability as part of our broader effort to avoid excessive volatility. - To maintain our openness and move toward greener, more sustainable growth.

- We will spare no effort to reach agreement in Copenhagen through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations.

In further details the G-20 members said, "Enhancing our energy efficiency can play an important, positive role in promoting energy security and fighting climate change. Inefficient fossil fuel subsidies encourage wasteful consumption, distort markets, impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to deal with climate change. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the IEA have found that eliminating fossil fuel subsidies by 2020 would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 by ten percent. Many countries are reducing fossil fuel subsidies while preventing adverse impact on the poorest. Building on these efforts and recognizing the challenges of populations suffering from energy poverty, we commit to:

"Rationalize and phase out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption. As we do that, we recognize the importance of providing those in need with essential energy services, including through the use of targeted cash transfers and other appropriate mechanisms. This reform will not apply to our support for clean energy, renewables, and technologies that dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We will have our Energy and Finance Ministers, based on their national circumstances, develop implementation strategies and timeframes, and report back to Leaders at the next Summit. We ask the international financial institutions to offer support to countries in this process. We call on all nations to adopt policies that will phase out such subsidies worldwide."

And, on the climate change issue they said, " Increasing clean and renewable energy supplies, improving energy efficiency, and promoting conservation are critical steps to protect our environment, promote sustainable growth and address the threat of climate change. Accelerated adoption of economically sound clean and renewable energy technology and energy efficiency measures diversifies our energy supplies and strengthens our energy security. We commit to:

(1) Stimulate investment in clean energy, renewables, and energy efficiency and provide financial and technical support for such projects in developing countries. (2) Take steps to facilitate the diffusion or transfer of clean energy technology including by conducting joint research and building capacity. The reduction or elimination of barriers to trade and investment in this area are being discussed and should be pursued on a voluntary basis and in appropriate fora.

"As leaders of the world’s major economies, we are working for a resilient, sustainable, and green recovery. We underscore anew our resolve to take strong action to address the threat of dangerous climate change. We reaffirm the objective, provisions, and principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including common but differentiated responsibilities. We note the principles endorsed by Leaders at the Major Economies Forum in L’Aquila, Italy. We will intensify our efforts, in cooperation with other parties, to reach agreement in Copenhagen through the UNFCCC negotiation. An agreement must include mitigation, adaptation, technology, and financing.

"We welcome the work of the Finance Ministers and direct them to report back at their next meeting with a range of possible options for climate change financing to be provided as a resource to be considered in the UNFCCC negotiations at Copenhagen."

One of the most controversial issues included in the G-20 statement was the stance on eliminating "fossil fuel subsidies." The American Petroleum Institute (API) President Jack Gerard issued a statement saying, "The Obama administration and Congress now face many difficult choices if they choose to comply with the G-20 commitment to phase-out 'fossil fuel subsidies.' Above all else, the president and Congress should not use this commitment as an excuse to raise energy taxes on American consumers and businesses. Does the president really think it wise to eliminate tax provisions that encourage investment in technology and exploration and development and would likely constrict future energy supplies, raise energy costs and kill jobs?

"The pledge made to the G-20 also raises questions about the administration's commitments to vitally important energy programs. Will the White House ultimately cut the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and deny our most vulnerable citizens winter heat? Will they eliminate the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and undermine America's energy security? And what about the Highway Trust Fund? What America really needs is energy from all sources. . ."

In an earlier September 23, release from API in advance of the G-20 meeting, Gerard said, "As President Obama prepares to meet with the leaders of the G-20 nations Thursday, he should be commended for noting that climate change is a challenge for both developed and developing nations. But his call to 'phase out fossil fuel subsidies' is a wrong-headed approach that should be seen for what it really is: A giant tax hike on American consumers. . ."

Access the G-20 complete Leaders Statement (
click here). Access the G-20 Pittsburgh Summit website for more information (click here). Access a series links to White House fact sheets on the G-20 Summit (click here). Access a release from API (click here). Access the 9/23 release from API (click here).