G8 Summit Roundup: Climate Progress Hastens

by | Jul 9, 2009

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cooking-the-worldThe G8 Summit in Italy has resulted in a flurry of developments on climate change, including a pledge to cut global emissions 50 percent by 2050, a goal that before the meeting seemed unattainable.

While G8 members — the U.S., Japan, Germany, France, the U.K., Italy, Canada and Russia — agreed to cut their own emissions 80 percent by 2050, much of the developing world is not hopping aboard, AP reports. The 50 percent global cut will come from a combination of cuts across the board, leaning heavily on G8 nation commitments to make up for slack in poorer nations.

Developing nations seem to be waiting for industrialized nations to say they will provide incentives to prop up carbon cutting initiatives elsewhere, said Guy Caruso, senior adviser for the energy and national security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank.

Indeed, the G8 took wording out of its declaration that had promised $400 million in funding to help poor countries convert to a low-carbon economy, reports Bloomberg. The G8 also removed language contained in prior draft documents that called for emissions to peak by 2020.

Additionally, the rest of the world is waiting for rich nations to commit to mid-term carbon cuts by 2020 or 2025, a consensus that has not yet been reached.

Angered by the lack of progress on this front, some nations such as China and India have decided against committing to numerical targets July 9, as they had previously indicated, WSJonline reports.

3.6 degrees of separation

The rich and the poor nations did reach agreement on one topic. The world must do all it can to keep the average global temperature from rising 2 degrees celsius (or 3.6 degrees fahrenheit), AP reports. Allowing the world to warm any further could destabilize global ecosystems beyond the point of return, according to the United Nations’ chief panel on climate change.

You are part of the G8, right?

Despite signing the commitment to reduce greenhouse gases 80 percent by 2050, Russia will not be able to meet the target, Reuters reports.

Early exit for China

Chinese President Hu Jintao left the meetings July 8, before having a chance for meaningful dialogue with President Barack Obama or other world leaders. He returned to China to deal with riots in western provinces, reports WSJonline.

The lack of Chinese presence will make it difficult to forge a true world consensus, as it is generally agreed that the U.S. and China – the two biggest emitters – must be in accord before the world will follow suit.

To cap and trade, or not to cap and trade?

The cap and trade agenda has developed largely as a result of progress in Europe, the early adopter of the system.

There is some worry in European circles that if the U.S. and China somehow agree to a plan that does not have cap and trade at its center, that the trading system will be marginalized, reports the New York Times Greeninc blog. If China will not agree to a numerical target, then the subject of global cap and trade becomes nearly moot.

Yet at least Sweden, which holds the rotating chair in the European Union, is confident that the U.S. wants to link carbon trading markets between the U.S. and the EU, as well as possibly other nations like Australia.

“I had a discussion with President Obama on the U.S. cap and trade system and would like to link it up with ours (the EU), Australia, possibly others, as part of a global carbon trading scheme,” Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said on Wednesday after talks with Obama, reports Reuters.


In addition to your run of the mill environmentalists-streaking-naked kind of protest, this time, members of Oxfam dressed up as leaders of the G8, poised around a simulated boiling cauldron that held the earth (see photo above). To make their point, the Oxfam characters added CO2 emissions to the recipe. Here’s some coverage of the protest. Here’s a link to Oxfam’s photo gallery of the protest.

On to Copenhagen

With the global climate talks coming to a head this December in Copenhagen, the G8 must take the lead in putting forth a framework for tackling climate change, said former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is campaigning for greater environmental awareness, CNN reports.

“Let the Clean Economy Begin.”

Business leaders are eager for the world to agree to a climate solution.

Nineteen multinational companies – such as Johnson & Johnson, Nike, Tetra Pak, Nokia and HP – have partnered with the World Wildlife Institute in a campaign encouraging governments and policy-makers to “Let The Clean Economy Begin.”

The WWF said this new Climate Saver campaign will be pushed in a variety of marketing channels leading up to the Copenhagen talks.

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