G8 Summit: Climate Targets Set, Now What?
The members of the G8 Summit have set their climate targets, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050,and while some call this aggressive, others says it is not nearly aggressive enough.
But what happens now?
The G8 agreement will put added pressure on the Harper government to revise its climate-change plan to force deeper emission cuts than it currently proposes, John Drexhage, an Ottawa-based analyst with the International Institute for Sustainable Development, said Wednesday.
“You can always finesse things in terms of what your allocation [for emission cuts] will be,” Mr. Drexhage said. “But by and large, the two-degree mark would call for reductions of a greater stringency than the current Conservative plan.”
These G8 nations now have the job of persuading nations like China and India to meet these same targets, but both these nations said that they won't let greenhouse gas cutbacks take precedence over the needs of the thousands of poor people.
“The emerging economies will be hit as hard, if not harder, by climate change as anyone, so it's important for them to realize the necessity of making commitments,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday after finishing up the first day of meetings in this central Italian city that was so devastated by last April's earthquake.
The G8 nations have agreed to not let the world temperature rise by more than two degrees as climate scientists predict that the temperature will rise and cause droughts and floods.
Barack Obama made a speech today about the forum on energy and climate, and agreed that all industrialized nations needed to cut their emission by 80 percent by 2050, but no base starting date could be agreed upon.
A Russian official even questioned the target just hours after President Dmitry Medvedev agreed to the number. “For us, the 80-per-cent figure is unacceptable and likely unattainable,” Arkady Dvorkovich, Mr. Medvedev's top economic aide, told reporters.
“We won't sacrifice economic growth for the sake of emission reduction,” he added.
Environmentalists are not happy with the current targets and want emission to be reduced from their 1990 levels, not from the 2006 levels. In Canada, the oil industry is raising multiple concerns as the government wants to expand production in the oil sands, but this is one of the biggest sources of emissions in the country.
A senior official at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said any effort to fight climate change must be a “shared commitment” among all countries.
“The Group of Eight has identified the major hurdle, which is to create a common set of rules that recognize and achieve a shared, global goal of tackling climate change, without creating a disadvantage for individual nations,” association vice-president Roman Cooney said.
China and India are not classified as industrialized nations and so will not have to be part of the emissions target. Climate change in India is currently no more than an emerging phrase.