June 29, 2019

G20 Fails on Climate Emergency

Weak statement shows real climate leaders are not the politicians meeting in Japan

(Osaka, Japan) -TODAY – The G20 concluded with a historically weak commitment to tackle climate breakdown, after pressure from President Trump and tepid leadership from host, Prime Minister Abe of Japan.

“Climate action is phasing out fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas. Climate action is cutting off finance to the fuels we know are driving climate breakdown. The G20 in Japan has not made any meaningful commitment on these key issues and completely abdicated its responsibility.” Takayoshi Yokoyama, head of 350.org Japan said.

The communique makes no commitments on phasing out fossil fuels, has a weakened reiteration of the need to address fossil fuel subsidies, and has no references to previous commitments to work on climate risk and financial disclosures. In a significant change from past practice the communique also allows the United States to insert its own paragraph justifying its climate isolationism. Mentions of unproven carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies will not get us out of the climate crisis. We need bold actions by the world’s biggest economies to accelerates the just transition towards a 100% renewable energy society starting immediately. 

“Politicians in their plenaries continue to be in denial about climate breakdown. Indian cities are without water. Europe is baking in an unprecedented heatwave. The heightened storms that ripped through Mozambique and the typhoon that flooded Osaka’s airport right beside this year’s Summit venue are still so recent – yet we get platitudes; and sometimes not even that from these meetings.” Norly Mercado, Asia Director of 350.org said.

Prior to the meeting protestors across Asia joined with 80,843 people signing online calling for G20 summit host Japan to make urgent action on the climate crisis a priority for the Summit. Across the region people have been protesting in the front of Japanese embassies to demand that Japan shows real leadership as G20 Chair by ending funding for coal worldwide.

“The establishing purpose of the G20 was global economic stability and it is headed off a cliff due to climate breakdown. The warnings of the IPCC don’t seem to be registering. The reserves in currently operating oil and gas fields alone, even with no coal, would take the world beyond the Paris goal of 1.5°C. As Japan and other G20 countries continue to fund new fossil fuel infrastructure, our governments are accelerating the climate emergency.” Brett Fleishman, Global Finance Campaign Director at 350.Org said.

Prior to the summit new research showed that G20 governments provide at least USD $63.9 billion per year in government support to the production and consumption of coal alone, with almost three-quarters of the support identified being directed to coal-fired power production. This dangerous incentive to continue climate pollution was not addressed at the meeting.

“They call it a ‘leaders summit’ but there was no leadership to be seen on climate. The real leadership is the people shifting their own communities off coal, oil and gas like we saw happen this week in Lamu, Kenya where a Chinese backed coal plant was halted. The real leadership is coming from the young people who have called for global climate strikes. The real leadership is from communities who are putting themselves at risk, to do the work to get public and private investments out of coal, oil, and gas. There is plenty of leadership on the climate emergency in the world – just none of it was on display in Osaka.” Shin Furuno, East Asia Finance campaigner at 350.org said.

Every Friday young people are striking from their schools for climate action. They have called for a Global Climate Strike including people of all ages for September 20th, ahead of the UN’s Climate Summit on the 23rd of September.



Photos of the protests in Japan and across the world are here.
Information on the NoCoalJapan campaign.
More background on the Lamu coal plant that was blocked in Kenya.
Information on the Global Climate Strikes.


Yasuhiko Seki, 350.org Japan, Tel: +81-90-4752-7020, Email: [email protected]