The G8/G20 summits ended on Sunday with the world focused on the standoff between protesters and police in Toronto.
On the other side of the fence, the meetings themselves ended with world leaders largely ignoring international outrage about the impacts of fossil fuels, global climate change and poverty. Demands that G8/G20 leaders take action on the environment and live up to their commitments went unheard.
Thousands of people gathered in Toronto, and 2 million people worldwide signed a petition calling for leaders to Invest in the Future Now, by tackling climate change, fighting poverty and shifting to a low carbon economy. Nobel Peace Laureates, and many others, joined the call to push for climate change to be a central focus of the G8/G20 agenda.
At last year’s G20 meetings in Pittsburgh, member countries made firm commitments to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies by 2020. Strong wording in the final communique gave climate activists hope that this was one commitment that world leaders would not shy away from. However, rather than strengthen their commitments in Canada, they have chosen to recycle statements from their last meeting. As climate change continues to gather pace, it is not the time to look back; it is time to move forward.
If the G20 held to its commitments in Pittsburgh we could make up some real ground in the fight against climate change. WWF estimates that an end to fossil fuel subsidies by 2020 would result in a 10 per cent drop in climate change emissions. Instead, 500 billion dollars (US) goes into subsidizing fossil fuel production and consumption every year -roughly ten times the annual amount estimated as adequate to meet global Millennium Development Goals for eradicating poverty.
People all around the world will continue to demand action on climate change but it is time that our leaders lead.
Climate Backslide! As Public Opinion Moves One Way, Politicians Go The Other, The Huffington Post, 28 June 2010.
Nearly 2M people call for climate action from the G8/G20, tcktcktck, 25 June 2010.
Team Green isn’t looking to strong on the G20 soccer pitch, The Toronto Star, 25 June 2010.