Talk is cheap: how G20 Governments are financing the climate disaster

“Talk is cheap. How G20 Governments are financing climate disaster”, this the title of a recent report (it has been published in these days, during the G20 summit in Hamburg) written by several NGOs (amongst them there is also the WWF). The G20 will end tomorrow, July 8th, and this year there has been a lot of interest generated by the first face to face meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin: in the last weeks some papers reported Donald Trump has shared secret information with Russia, a fact which could generate strong consequences for US president, and this is the main reason for this amazing interest shown by the media.

G20 governments signed Paris Agreement in 2015 and are now stating they are respecting it. Nevertheless, they seem to focus more on pointing fingers against each other (in particular against who – no name needed – is leaving this Agreement) more than trying to accomplish what they promised.

The report, thanks to thorough data and charts, shows how G20 countries are actually financing (by grants, subsidies and others) more investments involving fossil fuels than projects involving clean energy. In particular, the Fossil Fuel – Clean Energy ratio (that is, the amount of money spent on fossil fuels above the one spent on clean energy projects) is really high: 4, it means for each dollar spent on clean energy there are 4 dollars spent on fossi fuels, especially on oil and natural gas. From 2013 to 2015, the total public investment in the energy sector counted for USD 122 billions, with 18 invested in clean energy and 72 in fossil fuels, while the other 26% of the total spent on general infrastructure facilities.

Hence, it is clear that despite the commitment taken during Paris COP21, the countries above are not practicing what they promised. Nonetheless, there are some countries which stand out because of their capability to invest in green energy almost as much as they do in fossil fuel, like Germany (2.5 USD millions in green energy and 3.4 in fossil) Mexico (235 against 288) and especially France with a clean investment higher than fossil fuel investment (650 against 608).

These data, as the same GNOs report, does not include national-level subsidies or investments by majority government- owned banks and state-owned enterprises, but it is obvious we cannot say we are walking in the right direction in order to accomplish the Paris promises, indeed a change of course is highly recommended to restart walking our path toward a more sustainable future.

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