The G-20’s Fossil Fuel Subsidy-Reducing Pledge: Where’s the Who, Where, When, Why, and How?


The G-20’s “pledge” to reduce subsidies for oil, coal, and other fossil fuels sounds more like a mumble. The group’s promise includes the “what” of the equation – a goal to reduce tax breaks and government assistance these types of fuels – it falls flat in other areas: the who, where, when, why, and how. Looks like creating immediate climate change solutions may not be a top priority for the G-20 – but does this mean it’s not a top concern for world leaders?

According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, G-20 leaders pledged a “phasing out” of fossil fuel subsidies in nebulous terms Friday, promising to phase out subsidies in the “medium term, protect subsidies for renewable energy, and guard programs designed to help poor pay for energy. However, the pledge’s numerous gray areas leave some sustainability proponents worried. It did not set a date of completion, a clear definition of what subsidies it would eliminate (i.e. greenhouse gas emissions permits), or methods of policing global compliance. (These gray areas are not surprising, nor unrealistic, according to one Triple Pundit blogger.)

While the pledge’s significance for green business is to be determined, one could speculate wildly in the meantime. It could be building block toward success at the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December. It could be a smart move in the chess game against fossil fuel lobbyists working hard to secure governmental protection. Or, it could be a treading-water-type move with little to no impact….

What do you think about the G-20’s decision (or lack thereof)?

Sarah Harper is a professional writer based in San Francisco, California. Her interests include sustainability, government policy, and international politics. In her free time, Sarah enjoys toying with the idea of holistic health, overanalysis, and plotting world exploration.

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