G-20 leaders in St. Petersburg. [Photo by The Guardian]
At the recent G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, world leaders took two steps toward mitigating climate change.
Well, two rather small steps.
The leaders agreed in principle to phase out fossil-fuel subsidies and the use of hydrofluorocarbons, Environment News Service reports.
The G-20 leaders had discussed phasing out such subsidies at a 2009 meeting in Pittsburgh, and announced their full commitment to it in St. Petersburg.
The meat of the pact was an agreement to establish a methodology for a new peer-review process for quantifying subsidies.
The process is a first step toward phasing out the subsidies; it will help individual countries determine if getting rid of the subsides will affect their ability to provide energy to their citizens.
The results from the first round of peer reviews will be ready for next year's G-20 Summit, to be held in Brisbane, Australia.
The International Energy Agency estimates that eliminating fossil-fuel subsidies would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent by 2050 through lower consumption due to higher unsubsidized prices.
The agreement should dovetail nicely with the Obama Administration's energy policy, which has centered on providing incentives for alternatives to gasoline-fueled vehicles, such as plug-in electric cars and natural-gas vehicles.
In 2012, President Obama called oil the "fuel of the past."
The second environmental highlight of the G-20 Summit was an agreement to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Used as refrigerants and air conditioner coolants, HFCs are consider to be greenhouse gases.
“Phasing down HFCs would yield enormous climate benefits, reducing as much as 90 gigatons of CO2 equivalent between now and 2050, or roughly two years of global greenhouse gas emissions at current levels,”a White House statement said.
[hat tip: Brian Henderson]