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NEWS: Harper fails on past G20 commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies

Northern Alberta tar sands

On June 30, the Canwest News Service reported that, “(At the G20 summit in Pittsburgh in 2009), the G20 agreed to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.”

“According to last year’s summit, getting rid of the subsidies by 2020 would mean a 10 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050.” It has also been reported that, “If countries deliver on the commitment, the International Energy Agency has estimated that it would deliver about 30 per cent of the reduction in emissions required by 2020 to prevent average global temperatures from crossing a tipping point of two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, according to a recent analysis.”

“And it would reduce government deficits by $560 billion a year — the amount spent on various subsidies supporting oil and gas and coal use. Producing nations and provinces subsidize the industry. They offer grants or build roads or cut royalties to encourage the companies to develop oil and gas in their jurisdiction. They want the royalty revenue and the jobs. The Pembina Institute estimates federal government subsidies to the oil and gas industry at $2 billion.”

Today, the Canwest News Service reports that, “The Harper government has protected several incentive and subsidy programs for fossil fuels, despite making a G20 pledge (in 2009) to phase them out, according to a leaked document from last month’s conference in Toronto. The annex, which circulated at the summit, lists and summarizes several measures by other countries to eliminate taxpayer support for the industries that are blamed for producing emissions that trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. But Canada’s submission only included previously announced measures, including a decision made in 1987 (and 2003). Canada said it was still analyzing its options.”

So, in short, the Harper government spent at least $1.24 billion on the G8 and G20 summits ($32 from every Canadian), and tried to spin the fact that it had failed to meet a previous G20 pledge that would have substantially reduced greenhouse gas emissions and diverted billions of dollars from the oil and gas industry that could have been put towards climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, maternal health and infant mortality initiatives, the development of sustainable and green energy, or even debt reduction.

The earlier Canwest News Service article notes, “In Toronto, the leaders agreed again to the ‘phase out over the medium term of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption, taking into account vulnerable groups and their development needs.’ Not exactly a rock-solid commitment, and that is a shame.”

To read more, go to http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Feds+maintain+fossil+fuel+incentives+despite+phase+pledge/3238173/story.html#ixzz0stZOLw3H and http://www.timescolonist.com/technology/Summits+cost+delivered+little/3219760/story.html.