Environmental groups say G20 paying lip service to clean energy

Members of the G20 account for about 80 percent of world total emissions of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  July 5, 2017 at 6:51 AM
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July 5 (UPI) -- The world's leading economies are skewing their financial strength toward fossil fuels even as the rhetoric shifts to renewables, environmental groups said.

More than 20 heads of state and government representatives arrive Friday in Hamburg for the 12th summit for members of the G20 economic bloc. In the past, members endorsed a toolkit for renewable energy development, energy efficiency and tackling climate change.

A report released by Oil Change International, Friends of the Earth U.S., the Sierra Club and WWF European Policy Office found public financing for fossil fuels from G20 members averaged $71.8 billion per year even as most affirm their support for the international Paris climate agreement.

"These countries have been talking out of both sides of their mouths," Nicole Ghio, a senior international campaign representative at the Sierra Club, said in a statement. "It's unconscionable that any nation would continue to waste public funds on fossil fuels when clean energy sources like wind and solar are not only readily available but are more cost-effective and healthier for families and communities across the globe."

The G20 accounts for about 85 percent of global GDP and 80 percent of the emissions of carbon dioxide, a harmful greenhouse gas. In a May, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found the net impact of pro-climate policies for the G20 would be about 1 percent for GDP by 2021. According to OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria, there is "no economic excuse" not to act on climate change initiatives.

The report from the coalition of environmental groups found that about 15 percent of the collective support from overseas development agencies, multilateral banks and export credit agencies went to back clean energy development.

Host-country Germany accounts for nearly 23 percent of all emissions tied to fossil fuels in the European Union, though it has one of the region's greener economies. Eurostat, the record-keeping arm of the EU, reported a preliminary bloc-wide estimate for carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels declined 0.4 percent compared with last year. The United States, the largest economy in the G20, started the process under President Donald Trump to pull out of the Paris agreement, though state and local leaders have since made pledges to support the effort.

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