G20 leaders time to show us the money for climate action

Greenpeace massive climate warning banner on iconic bridge greets G20 leaders

Press release - 23 September, 2009
Greenpeace activists are in the process of rappelling off one of Pittsburgh’s iconic bridges with a massive banner displaying their message to G20 leaders gathering for tomorrow’s summit: "Danger. Climate Destruction Ahead. Reduce CO2 Emissions Now".

The banner, nearly 24 x 9 meters (80 x 30-feet) in size, takes the form of stylized "road sign" and warns of the political manoeuvring and delay that have put the climate treaty in jeopardy as the world enters the final stretch on the road to Copenhagen. 

The message to President Obama, Chancellor Merkel, President Sarkozy and other G20 developed country leaders urges decisiveness on climate finance and green stimulus; this is the time for action, not for lowering expectations.

Yesterday, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's summit on climate change laid bare the divisions between developing countries ready to commit to action, and developed countries' empty rhetoric. The G20 is where leaders of developed countries need to put their money where their mouths are.

Greenpeace is calling on developed countries to contribute at least US$140 billion a year by 2020, to developing countries in order to enable them to adapt to and take action on climate change and to finance forest protection (1).

"This G20 summit is crucial; finance is fundamental to tackling climate change and with just 10 weeks left until Copenhagen, further delay is not an option. Gordon Brown has already recognised the substantial climate investment needed for developing countries. Now Obama, and other industrialised world leaders need to step up and do the same," said Patricia Lerner, Greenpeace Senior Political Adviser.

"Leadership must come from developed countries. Right now that leadership can be measured in money, "she said.

Economic recovery is dependent on tackling climate change. If leaders fail to take the actions urgently needed this year, climate change impacts will likely cost over 20% of global GDP -- more than the Great Depression and both World Wars combined, in addition to the human deaths and species extinctions, according to Lord Stern, former World Bank chief economist.

Tackling climate change and channelling investment into green energy would be a fraction of this cost, just 1 or 2% of global GDP (2).

Further, a new report from Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council shows the renewable power industry could support 8 million jobs by 2030, if governments switched from carbon intensive energy to renewables (3).

G20 industrialised countries must demonstrate leadership in Pittsburgh and break the deadlock plaguing climate talks by:

  • Kick-starting growth by agreeing here and now to invest in developing clean technologies for the future, creating jobs while lowering carbon emissions to prevent global temperature rise above 2 degrees Celsius. 
  • President Obama, Chancellor Merkel, President Sarkozy and other industrialised country leaders must take responsibility and send a strong signal that they will put money on the table - at least US$140 billion annually by 2020 - to support clean energy and other mitigation activities, forest protection and adaptation in developing countries.

Other contacts: Beth Herzfeld, Greenpeace International Media Officer, tel: +1 202 683 0237 or +44 7717 802 891

Michael Crocker, Greenpeace USA Media Director, tel: +1 202 215 8989

Molly Dorozenski, Greenpeace USA Media Officer tel: +1 917 864 3724

Photos and video available at: http://usaphoto.greenpeace.org/20090923G20// and Flickr.com/photos/greenpeaceusa09

Greenpeace International video desk: Maarten van Rouveroy, tel +31 646 197 322 (AMSTERDAM -- For international media);

Greenpeace US photo desk: Bob Meyers, ; +1 703-380-2645

Notes: (1) In July, President Obama and other leaders tasked G20 finance ministers to work on climate finance and report back on progress at the G20 Summit. To avert catastrophic climate change, leaders at Copenhagen must agree that developed countries, as a group, need to cut emissions by 40% by 2020. Developing countries must also take ambitious action. Global emissions must not only peak by 2015, but they need fall to as close to zero as possible by mid-century. To do this, along with ending deforestation and adapting to the already inevitable climate impacts, developing countries will need at least US$140 billion a year from developed countries to do this.

(2) See ‘The Stern Review’, the most comprehensive review carried out on the economics of climate change, see http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/sternreview_index.htm and a figure supported by the United Nations Environment Programme in its report ‘A Global Green New Deal’ http://www.unep.org/greeneconomy/docs/GGND_Final%20Report.pdf

(3) See www.greenpeace.org/greenjobsFollow the action on Twitter at Twitter.com/greenpeaceFor live feed of updates see www.greenpeace.org/g20action