As host of this G20, Australia reluctantly released a statement that had been agreed with other leaders at the summit. Interesting energy and climate related commitments were made, including:
- To improve energy efficiency emphasizing six sectors: buildings, transportation -especially heavy vehicles, industrial processes, electricity generation, the financing of energy efficiency, and efficiency of networked devices. The White House highlighted a focus on heavy trucks and large vehicles that represent half the vehicle emissions but only 10% of traffic. The USA is keen on promoting its leadership in this area.
- To phase out fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption. The USA, China and Germany will conduct a study with the support of the European Union.
- Strong and effective actions to address climate change, including a successful outcome of the Paris climate conference in 2015. Domestic targets for emissions reductions should be announced as soon as possible, ideally by early 2015.
- The importance of contributing to the Green Climate Fund was highlighted. The USA committed $3 billion.
Tony Abbot and the Coal Addiction
The Australian Prime Minister and his team were not pleased. Having tried to resist pressure from President Obama and the European Union for climate change to appear prominently in the statement, they reluctantly sent the communiqué but made sure to downplay its significance. They also announced major investments of $7.5 billion in coal infrastructure despite warnings that the project is not commercially viable. Major international financial institutions refused to provide financing.
Australia is highly reliant on coal but has suffered major setbacks in this sector recently, including the recent ban by China on the lowest quality “dirty coal” to improve air quality that will hurt Australian exports.