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NEW YORK: A report by Bloomberg Philanthropies and research affiliate BloombergNEF says G20 member countries have provided over US$3.3 trillion in subsidies for coal, gas, oil, and fossil fuel power since the Paris Agreement.

At today’s prices the amount could fund 4,232GW in new solar power plants – over 3.5 times the size of the current US electricity grid.

Between 2015 and 2019 eight G20 members - Argentina, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, and the UK - reduced their fossil fuel subsidies by 10 percent or more.

However their efforts were undermined by eight other countries that increased their support for the use and production of fossil fuels, distorting prices and risking carbon ‘lock-in’ - where assets funded today continue to emit high levels of emissions for decades: Australia (+48 percent), Brazil, Canada (+40 percent), China, France (+24 percent), Indonesia (+27 percent), Mexico, and the US (+37 percent).

The Bloomberg report says much of the global effort since 2015 has been to phase out support for coal. But despite the rhetoric, China, South Africa, Japan and the US continue to increase funding. Overall, G20 countries have just under 400GW of new coal-fired generating capacity planned - equivalent to 25 percent of the current number of coal power stations worldwide.

Günther Thallinger, member of the Board of Management of Allianz SE and chair of the UN-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance commented: “As of today, policy frameworks across most G20 countries are not sufficient to drive real economy to net-zero transition to achieve 1.5C with reasonable likelihood.

“The development and publication of credible 2030 emission reduction plans, which create a rising price on carbon and have clear regulatory standards, including on climate-related financial disclosures are urgently needed,” he continued.

In the run-up to COP26 in November, the report says governments can take three steps now to achieve the Paris Agreement goal: phase out support for fossil fuels, putting a price on carbon emissions and making companies disclose the risks they face due to climate change.

“Given that the G20 accounts for nearly three-quarters of global emissions, progress from those governments in these three areas would mark a huge step forward toward tacking climate change. So far, they have yet to step up to the plate,” said Victoria Cuming, head of global policy at BloombergNEF and lead author of the report.

According to the International Energy Agency, governments have mobilised US$16 trillion in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and yet only 2.0 percent has been allocated to “building back better” with clean energy development. One obvious result, says the IEA, is global CO2 emissions are set to climb to record levels in 2023 and continue rising in the following years.

“Not only is clean energy investment still far from what’s needed to put the world on a path to reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century, it’s not even enough to prevent global emissions from surging to a new record,” declared IEA Executive director Fatih Birol.

COP26 will be the first official opportunity to discuss countries’ climate plans known as ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’. In 2020 governments submitted NDCs that will produce global warming of more than 3.0 degrees Celsius this century.

Last year data published by the Potsdam Institute and Columbia University, New York concluded a 2.0°C rise in global temperatures would produce a 2.5 metre rise in sea levels from melting Antarctic ice flows.

In 2013 Michael Bloomberg and several industry leaders and politicians warned in a series of detailed reports about the economic risk of climate change on American industry. As their forecasts become true, their prescient reports remain available via https://riskybusiness.org/
 
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