16 Nov 2014

G20 communique 'will include climate change'

9:43 pm on 16 November 2014

The G20 communique will include a significant passage on climate change, according to EU officials.

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott addresses leaders during the plenary session of the G20 Summit in Brisbane .

Australia's Tony Abbott addresses leaders during the plenary session of the G20 Summit. Photo: AFP

The United States and other heavyweight nations have overridden host Australia's attempts to keep the issue off the formal agenda.

Much of the meeting of world leaders in Australia has been overshadowed by the crisis in Ukraine.

But today, momentum swung back to other major concerns for the Group of 20 leading economies, including climate change.

Reuters reports that is something of an embarrassment for Australia, which had argued it was not a clear economic issue and so should not be discussed at the G20.

Leaders of the world's 20 largest economies are discussing ways of boosting world economic growth but have also pushed climate change on to the agenda despite Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's reluctance.

But New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said there was growing momentum to deal with climate change.

He is confident that the United Nations conference on climate change in Paris next year will make progress in reaching a global agreement on reducing carbon emissions.

The agreement between China and the United States last week to seriously address the issue has given impetus to talks on the matter. US President Barack Obama has followed that up by pledging $US3 billion to the UN Green Climate Fund.

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) speaks as New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key looks on in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington June 20, 2014.

New Zealand and the US will both make contributions to the UN Green Climate Fund. Photo: REUTERS

"As the economy's been recovering it is starting to become a more top of mind issue. You've seen some quite strong commitments, you know, for President Obama here. In the end you've still got to get the Congress to actually agree to giving him the $US3 billion for his climate fund but I'm fairly confident myself that climate change will just have a slightly higher profile over the next 12 to 18 months," Mr Key said.

Mr Key met French President Francois Hollande this morning at the G20 meeting and he said the two men discussed climate change given Paris is hosting the UN climate change summit next year.

He signalled New Zealand will be allowed some leeway around emissions from farming given food production is so important to feeding the world.

Mr Key said New Zealand farmers must be held accountable and currently they pay for emissions through the Emissions Trading Scheme.

"But there's no point in just putting a tax on them when they can't change. But as soon as we can give them options, and the science and technology we are developing like DCDs is an example of that, then we would expect them to comply. But we can't just put them out of business to see, you know, another part of the world have that economic activity pop up because that doesn't solve the issues of climate change," Mr Key said.

Mr Key said with the largest economies taking leadership on climate change, he expected there would now be movement towards an agreement on reducing emissions next year.

He said with many countries feeling stronger economically, the time had now come to increase attention on climate change.

"We're starting to see the US demonstrating underlying economic strength and it's feeling more confident about pushing an issue that it feels very strongly about," Mr Key said.

"There is a range of different views although I think there's a consensus view we need to deal with the issue. The question is really how you do that."

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