L’Aquila G8 Meeting and Climate Change

Earlier in the year, I blogged about Climate change, so the G8 meeting last week in Italy gives me an opportunity for some updates, but I should add that these remain rather disappointing. 

Last week, G8 leaders made an agreement that sounds great – by 2050, they’ll cut the number of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by half. It’s an improvement to Kyoto Protocol, at least, but it does not set short term objectives which limits its impact.  The statement on climate change approved by summit participants also includes a promise of an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by the world's richest countries, however, developing nations, including China and India, were quick to criticize the accord, insisting that the G8 cut their emissions by more.  The G8 declaration leaves it to individual nations to decide their emission baseline and the G8 countries also could not agree on a pledge to help fund poorer countries moves toward cleaner energy.

G8 leaders also agreed to restrict global temperature rises to no more than 2 degrees (Celsius) above pre-industrial levels – which had long been resisted by the US.  But the G8’s consensus is hardly airtight – it’s not yet legally binding, and no one has thought of a good way for rich and poor nations to share the burden.

The world leaders said they were determined to reach a comprehensive deal at a United Nations summit in Copenhagen this December, to reach agreement on a successor treaty to the Kyoto protocol, which expires in 2012.  Despite promises from G8 leaders on climate change, concerns were raised that other countries invited to attend the summit would not commit to some of the provisions.

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