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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

G8: Hot air won't cut greenhouse gas emissions


Post has been updated

The G8 summit was held in Japan this week. Security cost £280 million -£80 more than Japan gives in aid to poor countries every year. The G8 - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and America, along with Russia - accounts for almost half the world’s economic output, but it is developing countries and emerging economies that account for 70 percent of the economic growth.G8 countries are also responsible for 62 percent of the carbon dioxide accumulated in the Earth's atmosphere.

The G8 discussed climate change, and wants to cut greenhouse gas emissions worldwide by 2050. Its leaders said mid-term goals would be needed to hit the shared target. It further said that it would be up to individual countries to adopt them.

But none of the G8 countries have adopted any mid-term goals.

This promise is just hot air talk from rich leaders. The European Union is on record as wanting an agreement to require developed countries to cut their emissions by 25 to 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2020. The United States, Japan and Canada oppose those targets, so they are hardly gong to set mid-term goals as they believe the target can only be met if the major developing countries who are not part of this agreement play ball - they won't - and that the 50% figure concerns global emissions, not necessarily their own. It's like an out clause. Last year George Bush agreed to seriously consider at least 50 percent cuts in emissions by 2050. But the US policy is still a halt to the growth of greenhouse gases by 2020 and a halt to growth is not a cut.

Oxfam expressed disappointment at the deal. "At this rate, by 2050 the world will be cooked and the G8 leaders will be long-forgotten," said Antonio Hill, a spokesperson for Oxfam. "The G8's endorsement of a tepid '50 by 50' climate goal leaves us with a 50/50 chance of a climate meltdown."

It is remembered that the G8 promised at the Gleneagles summit in 2005 in Scotland to boost aid to Africa by a further $25bn by 2010. So far the G8 has boosted development assistance to Africa by only $3bn, so why should we believe them this time?

update The Independent agrees
There is no detail in the communiqué; no medium-term targets; no commitment to agreeing a legally binding successor to the Kyoto protocol at Copenhagen next year. There is not even agreement on the date from which CO2 cuts will be measured.These leaders can set all the long-term goals they like, but without realistic means of achieving them, any document they produce will simply be a gust of hot air.

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