Ahead of the Paris talks, renewed calls to stop funding fossil fuels

A coal train passes Atlanta in the US. Photo credit: Jerry via Flickr.

By Anders Lorenzen

With just one week to go until the Paris climate talks, the digital campaigning organisation Avaaz have said that over 550,000 people want world leaders to stop funding fossil fuels. An Avaaz petition which called for world leaders to stop throwing money at fossil fuels has gathered over 550,000 signatures and was addressed to world leaders who last week were in Turkey for the G20 summit.

The petition argues that instead of, for instance, funding coal projects in the developing world, world leaders should fund the clean energy revolution.

Alex Wilks, Campaign Director of Avaaz said: “When it comes to action on eliminating dirty fossil fuel funding, the G20 is like a drunk at a wedding, it is charming and enthusiastic at night then can’t remember a thing the next day. With two weeks to go to the Paris climate summit, leaders need to switch dirty billions from fossil fuels and need to support vulnerable communities facing climate change devastation.”

Avaaz is also calling for leaders to address the $40 bln Green Climate Fund shortfall and agree to extend and expand it beyond 2020.
The high level of fossil fuel subsidies being paid for by world leaders was also under attack. The digital campaign organisation has been campaigning for an end to the staggering $452 billion paid out in fossil fuel subsidies and to develop a timetable to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, something G20 leaders agreed to in 2009.
Avaaz says that countries should not keep finance back and hold the Paris climate deal to ransom. They should instead convert the financing for fossil fuels towards a worldwide transition to a 100% clean energy future.

While the G20 communique included a strong statement to achieve an ambitious deal in Paris and that climate change is a critical issue, environmental groups noted that no new commitments were made. A coalition of non-profits and advocacy groups from across Turkey and the wider international climate and development movements had all worked co-operatively to develop a set of four clear asks for G20 Leaders

  1. A complete and total end to ALL fossil fuel subsidies.
  2. Stop our financial risk from climate impacts and action; demanding the G20 set a clear plan by 2018 to stress test all spending against its compatibility with global climate commitments.
  3. An immediate end to all investment plans for the expansion of existing and all new coal-fired powered plants and mines in Turkey.
  4. G20 leaders to unequivocally state their support for a long-term goal and ambition mechanism in Paris.

In a statement, Ethemcan Turhan, from Ecology Collective said: “G20 members are currently spending 789 times more on fossil fuel subsidies than they are on the Green Climate Fund, and yet they say in the communiqué how critical this Fund is and climate finance is – this is patently obscene.”

While Cem İskender Aydın from TEMA Foundation said: “The threat of new and expanding coal plants and mines in Turkey remains unattended to. This is deeply shameful, people are sick and dying from filthy coal and plans are afoot for international finance to build even more – this is a global problem of major significance.”

The environmental pressure group, Greenpeace, also criticised the G20 communique for not doing enough to get us off fossil fuels. Martin Kaiser, head of international politics at Greenpeace, said: ‘’The promising language from the G7 summit in June, the China-US bilateral agreements and a Leaders’ lunch on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly which committed to a phase out of fossil fuels, is not reflected by the G20. In Turkey, the forward momentum of progress on climate change has been lost. “This is not surprising as G20 leaders have failed to implement their own 2009 pledge to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies – a commitment which they have parroted at subsequent G20 summits. What hollow words they have proven to be.”
In the wake of the tragic terrorist attack in Paris, combating terrorism and the terror organisation Islamic State (IS) took priority and arguments have been made that climate change fell down the pecking order due to this. Though, separately, it is also been argued that failure to deal with climate change would also increase the risk of terrorism and that these two issues are more interlinked than we might think. “As people who live in Turkey we are no strangers to such dreadful and senseless violence. Climate change will only increase conflict, increase violence and play a role in even greater geopolitical conflicts and mass migration of desperate refugees,” Efe Baysal from Yuva Association stated.

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