Are G20 Members Burying Their Heads by keeping ‘Climate Change’ off their Agenda?

20141113cpy.. 400 burying heads in sand at Bondi Beach

More than 400 people buried their heads in the sand at Sydney’s Bondi Beach. Photograph: Mike Bowers

Starting with the 2008 financial meltdown, twenty world leaders have met each year at the ‘G20 summit’. This year’s conference will be on November 15th and 16th, in Brisbane, Australia. It will be led by Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

These twenty leaders represent roughly 85% of the entire world economy, and thus likely well over 90% of world energy consumption. So, if an issue such as ‘CO2 and Climate Change’ is to be taken seriously, these are the officials to lead the way. Getting away from coal is one major step toward addressing these issues. But, one major hurdle is that the top five nations for minable coal reserves (U.S., Russia, China, India and Australia, respectively) are all part of this G20 Summit. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the world’s largest private-sector coal producer, Peabody Energy (based in St. Louis, MO), is sponsoring the ‘Brisbane Cafe’ conference event in the days just prior to the G20 Summit. Nor is it a surprise that Climate Change is being left off of the agenda.

There is a strong appearance that national leaders are travelling to Brisbane to help broker deals that serve coal corporations with no regard to how people are adversely impacted. Hence, the protest by generally younger Australians, who symbolically buried their heads on a Sydney beach.

China and India are Playing ‘Catch-Up’

And, it is no coincidence that both China and India, where per capita energy consumption remains way behind that of people in places like the U.S., UK, and Germany, have rapidly growing economies. Thus, they are hungry to buy and use all the U.S. and Australian coal that they can find.

1751-2012 GtC
2012 population (M)
energy per capita
63 Million

The Table above presents total Gigatons of Carbon (GtC) emissions for each of the nations, from 1751 to 2012. It then presents the 2012 population in Millions. The red column shows the relative energy consumption for each nation, calculated as total Carbon emissions divided by total population in 2012. Note that UK and the U.S. each average more than ten-times the per capita energy consumption of China, and roughly thirty-five-times the per capita energy consumption of India. Clearly, these two most populated world nations have a lot of capacity to grow into larger energy consumers.

Here are two related charts, from a 11/12/2014 ThinkProgress article:

20120000.. Top Four Fossil Fuel Emitters (graph, from GlobalCarbonProject)

Cumulative CO2 Emissions, major nations, 1751-2012

See also:

UPDATED 11/21/2014