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Environmental Groups Blast G20 Summit

Environmental groups say world leaders have failed to address the climate issue at the G20 summit in Toronto, Canada.

The executive director of Greenpeace USA, Phil Radford, summed up the G20 summit from his perspective.

"It is like a meal where you ask your friends to come and bring a dish," he said. "Some countries came with things that were half-baked.  Some countries like Canada came with food that was rotten and then others showed up with nothing at all," said Radford.

World leaders met in Toronto, Canada for a two-day summit with the primary focus being the world economy.  Environmentalists say the problem of climate change was not given due attention.

Radford says coping with climate change can and should go hand-in-hand with economic recovery.  He says world leaders need to move forward with a plan to end subsidies on fossil fuels.  Instead, he says, they have repeated the same promises made last year.

At a 2009 summit, the G20 agreed to phase out fossil fuel subsidies - a move that would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent in the next four decades, according to the International Energy Agency.

"The $100 billion of fossil-fuel subsidies that they are thinking about cutting, but have not really moved on yet, is the exact same amount of money that leading countries pledged to give to developing countries to help them adapt to climate change, protect their forests and invest in clean energy,"he said.  "So Greenpeace expected to see those governments say we are going to follow through on our commitment to cut fossil-fuel subsidies and we will use that money to actually help move the global deal on climate change forward and help countries adapt to climate change and the transition to a clean economy," Radford added.

The leader of the WWF Global Climate Initiative, Kim Carstensen, says the G20 failed to agree on initiatives that would provide the world's poorest countries with the funding needed to cope with climate change.  

He says part of the problem is that that the role of the G20 is not entirely clear.

"The role of G20 is still, I think, in development and there are tensions between countries like China, India and the other emerging economies who want to see climate and other issues dealt with in the U.N. and some of the big developed countries who would like to see more discussion about climate in the G20 setting," Carstensen said.

According to the International Energy Agency, fossil fuel subsidies totaled $557 billion in 2008.

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