A coalition of young climate change warriors have called on leaders at the G20 to resist the public relations campaigns of the coal lobby, led by Peabody Energy, and instead invest in renewable energy for a “safe climate future”.
The summit of the world’s top 20 economies starts in Brisbane later this week (November 15 and 16). Despite climate change being on the agenda at past G20 meetings, the Abbott government has come under fire for dropping the critical global issue, instead focusing on “energy efficiency”.
The Abbott government claims climate change will not be discussed because the forum is on economics.
But that position was condemned by international climate change economist Nicholas Stern in the Guardian earlier this month, who stated the “G20 is the most effective forum for the discussion of the growth story of the future, the transition to the low-carbon economy”.
Today, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) penned an open letter to G20 leaders, calling on them to resist the propaganda of the coal lobby, particularly Peabody Energy, who recently launched a campaign claiming coal is good for solving global energy poverty.
The AYCC is planning to deliver the message outside Brisbane Global Café today where the head of Peabody Energy is due to give a keynote address.
“We are compelled to write this letter because we believe that the coal lobby, led by Peabody Energy is trying to unduly influence the outcome of the G20 summit,” the letter reads.
“Their agenda represents a threat to young people and future generations and we urge you to listen to our message over that of vested interests.”
In February, Peabody Energy launched its “Advanced Energy For Life” campaign which claimed “global energy poverty” as the “world’s number one human and environmental crisis”.
It called on world leaders to “end the crisis of global energy poverty”.
The Guardian’s Graham Readfearn reported the energy company had already been lobbying G20 leaders at a day-long “Energy Sustainability Working Group” work shop in Brisbane in August.
President of Peabody’s Australian arm Charles Meintjes gave a presentation on energy poverty where his slides stated “coal is the only affordable fuel at scale, to meet rising energy needs”.
Improving emissions could come down to less dirty coal plants.
Readfearn quoted the Australian National University’s Dr Matthew Dornan, present at the same meeting, who said “the presentation conflated the issue of energy poverty – on which the workshop was focused – with promotion of the coal industry”.
“The claims by Peabody that reducing our reliance on coal in favour of low carbon technologies will cause energy poverty due to higher prices are inaccurate, without supporting evidence, and in this case, disingenuous,” Dr Dornan said.
The letter from the AYCC says Peabody’s campaign will not benefit the world’s poor.
“We know that the rapid expansion of the industry will cost those living under the poverty line their health and clean air – and they are also the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,” the letter reads.
“As young people, we witness the impact of the fossil fuel industry and climate change every day. Thousands of children die each year from coal particulate pollution, Indigenous people are having their lands taken from them for exploration and extraction, and as fossil fuels warm our planet the impacts of climate change are harming our communities.
“The transition away from polluting industries to clean energy is already underway, in both developed and developing countries, but the coal lobby is trying to stand in our way. As young people, we are absent from the negotiating table but will feel all the consequences of your decisions.”
There were hopes following the circulation of a draft agenda of a brief mention of climate change in the “energy efficiency” stream of this month’s G20 meeting.
But Fairfax media reported earlier this week the Energy Efficiency Action Plan now makes no mention of it. Australia’s demotion of the crucial issue has outraged climate scientists, the European Union, climate campaigners, medical scientists, and many more, particularly given the timing in the lead up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Lima next month, and then crucial UNFCC talks in Paris in December 2015.
The Paris talks will attempt to reach a binding and universal agreement on emissions targets.
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