Movement By Inches On The Green Economy At The G-20
These international conferences rarely produce anything of value beyond some communique. In Pittsburgh at the G-20, leaders of the major nations congratulated themselves on saving the global economy and committed themselves to regulatory reform by 2012, with crackdowns on derivatives and banker pay and capital requirements. All of that's somewhat nebulous, however, and will be determined by national legislatures. I'm more interested in two measures. One is the pledge to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels. Again this is easier said than done, but it's good to put the nations of the world on the record, that artificially keeping polluting industries afloat is antithetical to the need to reduce greenhouse gases.
World leaders gathered in Pittsburgh for the Group of 20 summit agreed Friday afternoon to phase out fossil fuel subsidies over time, approving language that does not outline a specific timetable for the phaseout and makes clear that poorer citizens may still receive help in paying their energy bills.
But the wording of the statement, championed by the Obama administration, signals the world's most influential nations are taking an initial, tentative step away from the fossil fuels that power their economies.
"We commit to rationalize and phase out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption," the statement said. "As we do that, we recognize the importance of providing those in need with essential energy services, including through the use of targeted cash transfers and other appropriate mechanisms. This reform will not apply to our support for clean energy, renewables and technologies that dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
The other somewhat important announcement was the acknowledgement that the G-20 should be the key international economic conference going forward, rather than the more exclusive Group of 8. This gives emerging nations like China, India and Brazil more say in the global economic future.