G20: Seoul consensus fails to commit to energy revolution

Press release - 12 November, 2010
Seoul—12 November 2010—The G20 has once again failed to take the path of green development that the world economy and the environment desperately needs, Greenpeace said today.

Governments fought over currencies and trade, but effectively ignored the clean energy revolution that can boost economies, create jobs, cut emissions and stop another global crisis - climate change (1).

“The G20 can use flowery words to plaster over deep differences in economic policy, but that will do nothing to alleviate poverty or save the climate,” said Daniel Mittler, Political Director of Greenpeace International.

Questioning the G20´s ability to follow through on its promises, Mittler continued: “The G20 is not even keeping its own promises, such as the commitment made last year to cut fossil fuel subsidies. If this group doesn´t act to cut the billions in taxpayers money handed out to big oil and coal before the next meeting in France, the G20 will prove irrelevant to this urgent task.”

This would be a tragedy, as the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates cutting fossil fuel subsidies would result in a cut of two gigatonnes of CO2 - or 5.8% of global energy-related climate changing CO2 emissions (2).

Despite the Korean host’s pledge to prioritise following up previous commitments, leaders in Seoul failed to take any significant steps forward. “The G20 is failing to walk its talk at a time when subsidies to the tune of $100 billion per year continue to line the pockets of big oil and coal in the developed world alone” said Mittler.

The final G20 Communique calls for a successful, balanced result of the climate negotiations in Cancun.  Jasper Inventor, Greenpeace International climate campaigner from the Philippines comments: “The G20 climate agreement is meaningless rhetoric unless leaders agree to fund a  climate-friendly economy with drastically reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Today´s G20 statement has done nothing to advance the global climate negotiations, set to resume in two weeks in Cancun, Mexico.”

By merely "welcoming" the findings of the UN Secretary General´s Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, (3), the developed country members of the G20 failed to start delivering on the promise to provide $100 billion per year by 2020 to fund developing country climate action – and adaptation. Governments should have agreed a roadmap on how they will implement innovative financial sources - such as a cutting fossil fuel subsidies and taxing air travel – to deliver $100 billion for a clean economy and climate protection.

“The G20 say that they ´commit to stimulate investment in clean energy technology´(4) - but how serious are they?” asked Mittler. “Eight million jobs could be created by 2030 if governments truly backed renewable energy and energy efficiency. In Seoul, they merely recycled old economic ideas and tried to pass them off as new by adding a green tinge.”

Greenpeace Contacts in Seoul:

Daniel Mittler, Political Director, Greenpeace International, +31643787382

Patricia Lerner, Senior Political Advisor, Greenpeace International, +31 6 4616 2027 or 010-8659-6123,

Jasper Inventor, Climate Campaigner, Greenpeace International, +63 917 300 9567.



(1)  Greenpeace has shown how energy can be delivered to all while cutting emissions in its “Energy Revolution” scenario, produced with the European Renewable Energy Council: www.greenpeace.org/energyrevolution

(2)  See: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/press/releases/Greenpeace-Response-to-IEA-WEO-2010

(3)  See http://www.un.org/wcm/content/site/climatechange/pages/financeadvisorygroup/pid/13300

(4)    See para 68 of the final communiqué.