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G20 leaders acknowledge urgency of climate change, but fail to take concrete action on financing, says WWF

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA – Heads of the world’s 20 largest economies acknowledged the urgent need for a deal in Copenhagen that sets us on a path to a clean energy economy and addresses the devastating impacts of climate change, but very few concrete measures were taken by the group. 

G20 leaders failed to make any specific decisions on financing for climate change. They called on Finance Ministers to continue their work and report back at their November meeting in Scotland with a range of options for climate change financing to be considered at the UNFCCC negotiations in Copenhagen.

“In spite of the disappointing result of G20 on climate finance, we are still optimistic about the overall impression of this week’s high-level climate discussions in the US. Some doors were opened as we saw important political signals from both developed and developing nations, but time is running out and we need to move quickly from rhetoric to concrete action,” said Kim Carstensen, leader of WWF’s global climate initiative.  “Rich countries, especially the US, EU and Japan, can no longer hide behind emerging economies and need to commit to the right level of finance to remove barriers in the negotiations for a global agreement in Copenhagen.  They failed to do so in Pittsburgh.”

Some encouraging progress was made on the issue of phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, but leaders postponed decisions on firm actions and timetables to their next Summit. The commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies has the potential to generate hundreds of billions of dollars for clean energy development and access to clean energy for the poor. 

“If taken seriously, eliminating fossil fuel subsidies can be a major opportunity to shift incentives away from carbon pollution and towards clean energy development both in developed and developing countries,” said Carstensen.

Climate negotiations will start in earnest next Monday 28 September when negotiators from 192 countries will meet in the Thai capital of Bangkok. 

“We now look to negotiators to take up the mandate from their leaders and make real progress on the key elements of a deal,” said Carstensen.  



At the UN conference in Copenhagen in December 2009, countries have to agree to a climate treaty which has the power to save the planet from devastating climate change. This means the treaty must be fair, ambitious, and binding.

WWF asks countries to:

  • Agree to a strong, legally binding climate regime for the period after 2012, by amending the Kyoto Protocol and agreeing to a new Copenhagen Protocol;
  • Ensure that global carbon emissions peak by 2017 at the latest and decline quickly thereafter, with an aim to cut global emissions by at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050;
  • Agree to decarbonise developed country economies by 2050 and to reduce their emissions by 40% below 1990 levels in 2020 as a first step;
  • Facilitate the transition to low-carbon economies in developing countries by providing 160bn USD annually as financing for mitigation and adaptation and by providing access to clean technologies;
  • Support immediate action for climate change adaptation in developing countries;
  • Support a zero net deforestation target by 2020