Voices: Environmentalists on the G20
6 months ago world leaders meeting in Copenhagen for the UN summit declared climate change to be the greatest challenge facing this next generation.
This weekend at the G20 summit in Toronto? Barely a mention.
Some voices on climate change and the G20 Summit:
Phil Radford, the executive director of Greenpeace USA: "It is like a meal where you ask your friends to come and bring a dish," he said. "Some countries came with things that were half-baked. Some countries like Canada came with food that was rotten and then others showed up with nothing at all," said Radford.
Kim Carstensen, leader of the WWF Global Climate Initiative: the G20 failed to agree on initiatives that would provide the world's poorest countries with the funding needed to cope with climate change. "The role of G20 is still, I think, in development and there are tensions between countries like China, India and the other emerging economies who want to see climate and other issues dealt with in the U.N. and some of the big developed countries who would like to see more discussion about climate in the G20 setting."
According to Ron Johnson of the EnvironmentaLIST, he summarized what was being hoped for out of the G8/G20 summits on climate change, and what actually happened:
1. Move forward with an aggressive plan to deal with the climate crisis and gain momentum heading into COP16 in Cancun. No such luck. Canada announced some fast track financing, but there were little to no new initiatives discussed at the G8 or G20, and the report coming out of the G8 in Muskoka is almost identical in tone and intent to previous commitments.
2. Get tough and eliminate the billions of dollars of fossil fuel subsidies to companies such as British Petroleum and other upstanding corporate citizens. Uh, wrong again. The whole eliminate fossil fuel subsidies thing must have been decided upon after a long night at the pub because G20 leaders this weekend seemed to be trying hard to forget it ever happened.
3. Enact a tax on financial transactions, dubbed the "Robin Hood Tax," and earmark the revenues for social spending and climate change. Yes! Nah, just kidding. Wouldn’t that be nice though? A simple .05 per cent tax on transactions from corporations raking in billions in profits and, well, bailout revenue, to go to progressive social and environmental programs. There was lip service paid to keeping banks in line, so that’s good… right?
Is there still a road to Cancun? Or has all momentum that was seen in the lead up to the Copenhagen conference been lost?