G20 Expected to Move Forward on Cutting Fossil Fuel Subsidies

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The Group of 20 will agree to phase out fossil fuel subsidies in the “medium term,” according to the most recent leaked draft of their communique. Leaders will also agree to “intensify our efforts” to reach a deal in Copenhagen at the end of the year, but, as expected, won’t offer any more specific commitments on climate.

The draft cites recent data from the International Energy Agency and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that finds that cutting these subsidies alone would likely reduce greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent by 2050. It directs the energy and finance ministers of the G20 nations to develop timelines and strategies for phasing out those subsidies:

“Inefficient fossil fuel subsidies encourage wasteful consumption, distort markets, impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to deal with climate change,” says the draft statement.

Leaders are also expected to direct their finance ministers to provide them with a survey of their options for financing climate change adaptation and mitigation in the poorest countries, and to reaffirm their desire to reach a deal on climate this year. “We underscore anew our resolve to take strong action to address the threat of dangerous climate change,” said the draft.

Perhaps the biggest development was Obama’s announcement on Friday that G20 would henceforward replace the G8 as the main economic council of the world’s wealthiest nations. While G8 has been composed of northern-hemisphere, historical powers, the G20 includes nations like China, Brazil, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa—rising economies that will play an increasingly important role in global decision-making. It reflects the movement to a more multi-polar world, and the new grouping  accounts for roughly 85 percent of global gross domestic product and, in turn, 85 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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