British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has promised to put climate change at the top of the international agenda at this year's G8 summit, which will be chaired by the UK. But there are concerns that the USA is digging in its heels and preventing agreement by the world's richest nations to take the type of action that is desperately required to tackle the problem. The publication of a "Draft G8 Text on Climate Change and Sustainable Energy", posted on a web site, has added to these concerns.
Friends of the Earth said that the draft document does not go far enough to deal with a problem that the UK Government's chief scientist described as a bigger threat than international terrorism. The environmental campaign group said that the rest of the G8 nations (who have all ratified the Kyoto Protocol) must increase pressure on the United States (which is alone in not having ratified).
Friends of the Earth International's climate campaigner Catherine Pearce
said, "The alarm bells on climate change are ringing, but the world's richest nations aren't listening. President Bush is continuing to block attempts by Tony Blair for any meaningful international action on climate change. Fine words are not enough. As a result, this document appears to be more about saving face than saving the planet.
"G8 countries represent just 13 per cent of the world's population, but account for 45 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. The time has come for bold policies and global leadership. Unless they take a lead on this issue, the impacts of climate change will be felt for generations to come."
Friends of the Earth's criticisms of the draft document include:
� There are no specific targets or timetables for reducing greenhouse gases from G8 nations. Without targets or timetables meaningful action to tackle the problem is unlikely;
� There is no recognition of the major impact that G8 nations have had - and continue to have - on climate change. G8 countries are responsible for 64 per cent of all global emissions since 1800. And the USA has four per cent of the world's population, yet it produces around a quarter of the world's annual greenhouse gas emissions;
� There is no mention of the importance of implementing the international climate treaty, the Kyoto protocol, which the USA has refused to sign, or the need for international action to curb emissions after 2012, when the first commitment period under Kyoto ends.
Friends of the Earth's demands for the G8 include:
� Agreement on the compelling scientific evidence showing that climate change is already happening and that urgent action is now required to substantially reduce emissions.
� An agreement by G8 nations for specific, substantial and timetabled cuts in their domestic emissions of greenhouse gases.
� G8 nations must take radical action at home in order to reduce the impacts of climate change, including a change in consumption patterns and a meaningful switch to the use of renewable sustainable energy sources.
� G8 nations must stop promoting fossil fuel extraction in developing nations through international financial institutions such as the World Bank and export credit agencies.
� G8 governments should immediately phase-in public finance for sustainable clean energy.
Friends of the Earth also has concerns about some of the omissions in the draft communiqu�. This includes:
Nuclear power: under item 33 a "Statement on nuclear power, to be added following discussions". Nuclear power is not a solution to climate change � greater attention must be given to the contribution from cleaner sustainable energy.
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): (item 40a) "agreeing to fund a [$x] collaborative research programme to determine the viability of geological carbon dioxide storage in developing countries". Friends of the Earth is concerned that money may be channeled to CCS when it would be better spent on renewables.
There are currently only weak commitments to address the urgent needs of developing countries already facing dangerous climate change.
Posted on 31st May 2005
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