G20 Leaders Agree To Phase Out Inefficient Fossil Fuel Subsidies

by Zachary Shahan – Special to JBS News

Russian President Vladimir Putin at this month's G-20 summit. Image Credit: Government of Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin at this month’s G-20 summit.Image Credit: Government of Russia

Earlier this month, G20 leaders meeting in St Petersburg, Russia decided to phase out the use of HFCs. This got a lot of attention (at least among green media), and rightfully so. However, another big decision made in St Petersburg seems to have bypassed most radars. The G20 leaders also agreed to phase out “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies. Such a move would cut approximately $500 billion in annual governmental expenditures while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions (compared to business-as-usual emission projections) 10% by 2050.

Environment News Service, on the day of the meeting (September 20), wrote:

All the G-20 leaders agreed to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. Building on the commitment they made at the Pittsburgh G-20 Summit in 2009 to phase out these subsides, G-20 Leaders today agreed on the methodology for a new peer-review process of fossil fuel subsidies, an important step in combating climate change.

The International Energy Agency estimates that eliminating subsidies – which amount to more than $500 billion annually – would lead to a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below business-as-usual by 2050.

As part of the St. Petersburg Declaration released today at the close of the summit, the G-20 leaders stated;

“We reaffirm our commitment to rationalise and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption over the medium term while being conscious of necessity to provide targeted support for the poorest.”

“We welcome the development of a methodology for a voluntary peer review process and the initiation of country-owned peer reviews and we encourage broad voluntary participation in reviews as a valuable means of enhanced transparency and accountability. We ask Finance Ministers to report back by the next Summit on outcomes from the first rounds of voluntary peer reviews. Recognising the importance of providing those in need with essential energy services, we ask Finance Ministers to consider, in conjunction with the relevant international institutions, policy options for designing transitional policies including strengthening social safety nets to ensure access for the most vulnerable.”

Now, personally, I’d consider all fossil fuel subsidies to be inefficient, but I’m guessing that G20 leaders have some fossil fuel subsidies in mind that they would consider efficient. Otherwise, why the dubious language?

Also, I imagine they aren’t going to include externalities – even though they should — and I’m not seeing a timeline for the phase-out. I assume that isn’t yet set.

We’ll see what comes of all this, but it looks like a step in the right direction.

h/t Green Car Reports

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This article, G20 Leaders Agree To Phase Out “Inefficient” Fossil Fuel Subsidies, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Zachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

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20th Century Thinkers in the 21st Century

by John Brian Shannon

Many people in this 21st century would be surprised to hear they are deeply immersed (and some would say, horribly stuck) in 20th century thought, a century where for ninety of those hundred years, the endless game of nation-state vs. nation-state was played, and often played with brutality. Nation against nation, democracy competing with communism and authoritarianism, freedom vs. repression and ‘the West’ against ‘the East’, or occasionally, ‘North’ against ‘South’ — these were the headlines of a turbulent century.

All these battles were fought diligently, usually for valid reasons (but not always) by nation-states, their citizens, and soldiers, all over the world from about 1914 onwards.

In terms of the success against such social ills as world war, small hot wars, the Cold War, fascism, tribal wars, poor governance and even poorer economics, plus a low global standard of health care, we have come far in the past 100 years.

The problem is, some just don’t realize how far we have come and are still ‘fighting the last war’ to use a military euphemism.

The last war is well and truly over. Unfortunately, some have utterly missed that, profound as it is.

Illogically, many of these people are still holding positions of power, many of them from the baby-boom generation, that for now at least, continue to call the shots for the rest of the world.

A world of change has occurred, and yet many of those holding either political office or powerful unelected positions are completely blind to it, as their hatred for their former enemies burns so bright.

In the West, for just one example, most citizens are pleased that Vladimir Putin is running Russia. We all know that Russia is experiencing the problems associated with a former Soviet-era economy, but that they are recovering nicely from it. We also know that they are dealing with incredibly rapid economic growth – which is a great problem to have! If your country must have a major problem to deal with, that’s the one to have.

And many people in the West and around the world, socialize with Russians every day, online, in the workplace or at universities around the world. Everyone is getting along just fine, thank you.

Спасибо, очень понравилось! (Which is Russian for, “Thank you, very much!”)

But are Western political office holders or powerful unelected leaders happy about any of that? For the most part, NOT! And therein, lies a tantalizing clue about what ails the geopolitical world in this century.

The people in (elected and unelected) positions of power in the West today are the same generation that taught us to fear, hate, and fight, the Soviet Union at all costs (one of those costs being lessened Western civil liberties from the onset of the Cold War right up to the present day) — and the fact that the Soviet Union no longer exists and communism in modern-day Russia is about as important as it is here (it’s not) does not decrease their deeply-held hatred of our former enemy.

The better the Russian economy does, the more they hate Russia. The more Russian citizens smile on TV, the more they castigate Vlad Putin. As Russia became the 13th most powerful economy in the world, some in the West were tearing their hair out. Russia is on-track to become the 10th most powerful economy in the world within the next decade. Can’t wait to see the contorted faces then!

And it is getting increasingly difficult for certain Western news outlets to show recent pictures or videos taken in and around Moscow, without the many Mercedes Benz and BMW cars and SUV’s driven by ordinary Russian citizens ‘crapping up the frame’ – thereby contradicting the verbal op/ed piece.

No! All those Mercedes and BMW’s are NOT driven by “filthy rich Russian oligarchs with ‘dirty money’ or high ranking KGB officers that hate Fox News… er… America.”

That was LAST century.

The real story, in case you missed it, is that it is no longer about nation-state against nation-state (although, some people are desperately trying to make it ‘still that’), nor is it even, democracy against practically all other forms of government (although, some people are desperately trying to make it ‘still that’), nor is about some well-intentioned fight against horrible social ills such as apartheid, which is mostly won at this point (although, some people are desperately trying to make it ‘still that’).

What it is about, is that 98% of the world’s citizens want their governments to stop fighting the last war, to cease with the old hatreds and prejudices and get on with clearing a path for citizens, so that they can progress — financially, socially, and for those who want it, spiritually.

Feudalism was replaced with something better (from the point-of-view of 98% of the world population back in the day) which manifested itself as freedom and democracy in half the world, while the other half endured communism, which was still a lot better than feudalism, for most citizens. The governance systems in use in the 21st century are mostly democratic ones — and the ones that aren’t, are reforming at different speeds towards democracy anyway — whether we bomb them or not.

Our representative governments must begin to focus on what democracy was originally created to achieve. Can anyone even remember what this was, this far out from democracy’s beginnings? In general terms, it was to bring freedom, the rule of law, education, economic prosperity, and the pursuit of pleasure to the vast majority of citizens (the 98%) living within that voluntary state of governance.

But truth be told at this point, citizens around the world would settle for this generation of powerful elected and unelected people stuck in their 20th century mindsets, just getting out of citizens’ way and letting individuals and families solve their own issues and get to their goals, themselves. A new generation will soon take the reins.

In the meantime, try not to blow up the world with your 20th century thinking. Thanks.

Signed, the 98 percent.

JOHN BRIAN SHANNON

To follow John Brian Shannon on social media – place a check-mark beside your choice of Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn: FullyFollowMe/johnbrianshannon

Foreign Policy Magazine’s “A Kremlin Made of Sand” – MY COMMENT

Russian President Vlad Putin was the man who brought in 2-consecutive-term limits for the office of Russian President and without any complaining when the time arrived he did exactly as the Russian constitution required – he stepped down from Presidential office. All in all, pretty democratic of him.

Under his leadership and under the leadership of Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian economy has never been better – and yes, just like all economies these days a slip-up could prove costly. It’s the same everywhere it seems!

If the oil price happens to slip below $115. per barrel, I’m certain the Russian’s can simply defer some of their spending programs, until the oil price picks up again. Having hit ‘peak oil’ a few years back, I doubt prices will be dropping much, nor for long – as demand is still growing as the world economy returns to normal.

Paragraphs 3 and 4 (impressively and highly annotated) from Wikipedia — attest to Vlad Putin’s management successes during his first two terms as President and one term as Prime Minister. This information is widely accepted as factual and without contest.

“Putin has overseen a return of political stability and economic progress to Russia, ending the crisis of the 1990s.[4][5]
During his presidency, the Russian economy grew for nine straight years, seeing GDP increase by 72% in PPP (sixfold in nominal),[6][7] poverty decrease by more than 50%,[8][9] and average monthly salaries increase from $80 to $640.[6][10]
These achievements have been ascribed by analysts to strong macroeconomic management, important fiscal policy reforms, surging capital inflows, access to low-cost external financing and a several fold increase in price of oil and gas.[11][12][13]
The fast formation of the modern middle class in the country, the 2.3 times increase in real incomes between 2000-2011 as well as improvements in healthcare and public order allowed Russia to achieve the highest level of life expectancy in its history.[14]

As Russia’s President, Putin passed into law a flat income tax of 13%, a reduced profits tax, and new land and legal codes.[12][15]

As Prime Minister, Putin oversaw large scale military reform and police reform. His energy policy has affirmed Russia’s position as an energy superpower.[16][17]
Putin established a number of national champions, i.e. state corporations which oversaw the restoration of high-tech industries in the country (such as nuclear industry and defence industry).
Significant rise in foreign investments[18] contributed to the boom in such sectors as automotive industry.

Economic megaprojects which Putin endorsed have included the construction of major export pipelines (notably ESPO, Nord Stream and BPS-2), the restoration of the global satellite navigation system GLONASS, and the building of infrastructure for top level international events held in Russia (2006 G8 Summit, APEC 2012, and multiple sporting events).”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Putin

As a person widely-known to not like surprises, he welcomes any opportunity for communication with world leaders, which makes them feel quite comfortable enough to pick up the phone to discuss any matter at all with him — oh, how unlike the Soviet era of leadership!

We in the West don’t fully appreciate how fortunate we are to have Vlad Putin holding the position of the President of Russia.

Follow John Brian Shannon on Twitter: https://twitter.com/@JBSCanada