Sunday, November 8, 2009

G20 Finance Ministers fail to agree on Climate Change Finance Package

G20 Finance ministers failed to reach agreement on the financing required for a global agreement to stave off catastrophic climate change, according to WWF Scotland. The Finance Ministers of the G20 countries were meeting in St Andrews, Scotland on 6-7 November.

Dr Richard Dixon, Director of WWF Scotland said: "The G20 Finance Ministers meeting turned out to be a mostly irrelevant sideshow on the way to the talks in Copenhagen in a months' time. Failure to come to agreement here is a major disappointment. Given that these are the people who run the biggest economies in the world it seems unlikely that they will manage to devote any serious time to the issue of climate finance before the start of the Copenhagen meeting."

Indymedia Scotland: 'Nae Tae G20.' | Nae Tae G20 in St Andrews Blog


The poor progress made by the G20 in St. Andrews, echoes a week of negotiations in UN climate talks in Barcelona where Industrialised World Intransigence on CO2 emission Targets has probably doomed signing a legally binding treaty at the crucial UN climate conference - COP15 - in Copenhagen in December.

Outside the G20 Finance Ministers meeting in St Andrews students and civil society gathered with an alternative summit on Saturday and Students Blockading the G20 meeting on the road to the Fairmont Hotel in an attempt to disrupt the G20 finance ministers as they arrived at their St Andrews hotel location. A rally occured in St Andrews to say 'Nae Tae G20.' on November 7. (Photos) The students were protesting against the G20's current policies regarding the economic recession.

3rd year International Relations student Oliver Kearns said "The G20's plan to put the IMF at the centre of an economic recovery plan is beyond a joke. It is precisely the structural adjustment programmes of raised interest rates and cuts to public spending imposed by the IMF that have made so many countries suffer during downturns; that's why Western countries follow the exact opposite policies when they get into trouble, as the nationalisation of banks demonstrates,"

There were 5 arrests at an anti-G20 roadblock on November 7, with activists using locking arm tubes (lockboxes, lockon tubes) to form a circle in the middle of the road, blocking both lanes of traffic.

The G20 is made up of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK and the US, and the European Union, with officials from Central Banks and the World Bank and IMF also attending.

It has become routine to issue a communique at the end of G20 meetings showing what decisions and progress has been made, but clearly very little progress was made at this meeting as shown by the generalised statements and lack of a detailed package.

U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown pushed for a levy - a Tobin Tax or transactions tax - to prevent excessive risk taking and fund future bank rescues, with support from France, but the proposal was strongly opposed by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and Canada. (See Bloomberg: Geithner, Brown Split on Tobin Tax at G-20 Meeting)

Many emerging countries question whether climate change should be a priority topic of discussion at the G20, with some beliving the G20 is not the right forum. A split between industrialised countries and developing countries is evident on sharing the costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avert the worst impacts of droughts, wildfires, species extinctions and rising sea levels.

According to WWF Scotland, the G20 Finance Ministers were asked to look at the financing required to make a new global deal at Copenhagen work. WWF's summary of progress was detailed in their press release:


  • the G20 acknowledged the need to increase significantly and urgently the scale of funding but failed to make any reference to the sums required, estimated to be around $160bn a year of public financing

  • the G20 failed to agree on new sources of funding for a climate deal, such as auctioning emissions credits and levies on aviation and shipping

  • the G20 agreed some principals on a mechanism to administer and distribute these funds but failed to turn these into concrete proposals

  • despite last weeks pledge from Europe there is no new money on the table to help the most vulnerable countries adapt to a changing climate, around $10bn a year is needed.



In a World News Australia report Oxfam's senior policy adviser Max Lawson said: "The G20 has once again failed to live up to its rhetoric on climate change. As the clock ticks towards Copenhagen, the hundreds of millions of people around the world who are already suffering as a result of climate change cannot afford to wait any longer for a deal."

Dr Richard Dixon said "This is a group that can throw money at collapsing banks but cannot find adequate figures for the far worse challenge to the global economy of a collapsing climate system. Talk of a financial transaction tax has the potential to raise hundreds of billions in new funding every year, but turned out to be a red herring without solid political support."

"If we are to keep the planet below the danger threshold of a 2ÂșC temperature rise, the rich nations of the world are going to have to help developing countries follow a low-carbon development path and help them cope with the impacts of current and future climate change. We wanted to see solid proposals on how the money would be raised, managed and distributed and an indication of how soon the countries most vulnerable to climate change will receive assistance. The G20 has failed to deliver and the real work will now have to be done at Copenhagen." he said.

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