Monday, July 13, 2009
G8 Moves Forward on Climate Change
The eight richest industrialized nations - the G8 - gathered in L'Aquila, Italy last week to discuss among other things climate change. Unfortunately, the only news that grabbed the world's attention was a photo of who was looking at what.
It was expected that the G8 - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States - would agree that a rise in global temperature of two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels would set off a catastrophic chain of events that would send our planet spiraling out of control ecologically speaking.
The G8 also agreed to greenhouse gas reductions that echo the recent reduction targets passed in the US Congress. The Group mandated its members to cut carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. This commitment reasserts the targets and principles set out in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and cites the statement adopted in Toyako, Japan last year.
With its new targets in hand the G8 then challenged developing countries to cut global carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050.
China and India do not support such a measure as they believe that it would cripple their burgeoning economies. Other developing countries are particularly concerned that the G8 will not offer financial aid and technical support to help them adapt and meet these targets.
The Italian meeting of the G8 was held in conjunction with the Major Economies Meeting. The MEM is comprised of Australia, Korea and Indonesia, the G8 and the G5 - China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico. Together, these 16 countries account for more than 80 percent of global CO2 emissions.
This meeting marks the last time that all the major players are together until the Copenhagen Conference in December. At that time a new global agreement is expected to be reached that will replace the expiring Kyoto Protocol which sought to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 6-10 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-2012.
Talks on addressing climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions have been ongoing since the Rio Accord of 1992.