G8 Summit Talks on Climate Change a Bust
Developing nations refused to agree to a global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction of 50 percent by 2050. The the G5 (Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa) and Egypt met with G8 countries during the summit in L’Aquila, Italy. G8 nations agreed to an 80 percent reduction by 2050, but did not have specific plans for reducing GHG emissions.
According to a Los Angeles Times article, “G8 stopped well short of pledging to take aggressive action that could curb emissions more quickly — at the cost of higher energy prices and a feared worsening of the global economy.”
Dirk Forrister, who was chairman of the White House climate change task force under President Clinton, said, “It looks like it’s going to be a pretty tough fight [in Copenhagen], based on what happened in these meetings in Italy .”
“This is a huge missed opportunity. With new leadership in the U.S. there was great optimism. It could have been a dramatic turning point,” said Anantha Guruswarmy of Greenpeace.
UN Secretary-General Ban ki-moon criticized the GE leaders. “The policies that they have stated so far are not enough, not sufficient enough… The G8 missed a unique opportunity on climate change,” Ki-moon said.
Developing countries disappointed with G8
If G8 countries develop specific plans to reduce their GHG emissions, developing countries may agree to reduce their emissions. An official told Reuters, “China and India don’t adhere for the time being to the goal of a 50 percent cut by 2050, but there is a willingness to participate later.”
“China’s not going to do anything until the developed countries send a signal that they’re going to do something,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a geoscientist at Princeton University and a participant in the IPCC.
China’s President Hu Jintao said, “Developed countries should make explicit commitments to continue to take the lead in emissions reductions.”
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said before the G8 summit, “What we are witnessing today is the consequence of over two centuries of industrial activity and high consumption lifestyles in the developed world. They have to bear this historical responsibility.”
“We can not be satisfied with a single long-term objective without losing all credibility,” Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figuereido Machado said. “We need strong and deep reduction goals for 2020.”
Developing Countries Need Aid
Tearfund, a Christian aid agency, called for developed countries to provide at least $150 billion a year to developing countries with “no strings attached” to help them cope with climate change.
“Anything less will severely weaken relations between rich and poor nations and trigger a breakdown in trust that will block progress towards a strong and fair climate deal,” Tearfund said.
Paul Cook, Tearfund Advocacy Director said, “What part of the word urgency do G8 leaders not understand? Adequate finance is the sticking point currently deadlocking negotiations and so far the group has failed to put their money where their mouths are.”
Last February The Guardian reported that developing countries received less than 10 percent of the aid promised to them by developed countries to help them adapt to climate change. The richest countries in the world pledged almost $18 billion in aid in the last seven years, but less than $0.9 billion was disbursed to developing countries.
The UN has called for $50 to $70 billion a year in aid for developing countries. Yvo de Boer, head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) said, “Contributions to funds have been disappointingly low and the least developed countries have received very little. Without significant finance you will not get developing country engagement [in negotiations]. Funding is key to unlocking an outcome for the talks.”