Leaders at the G8 summit are preparing a common statement underlining the seriousness of climate change but without any concrete commitments on targets or actions.

The agenda of the G8 meeting at Gleneagles was turned upside down when the news about the terrorist bombings in London came in. Having received messages of solidarity and support from other world leaders, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair rushed back to London but rejoined the G8 on Thursday evening.

In the meantime, officials continued to work on a final compromise text concerning climate change. But as the London 7/7 attack brought world leaders' attention back to the 'war on terror', the plight of the African continent and the long-term battle against climate change may turn out to be further victims of the bombings.

The climate change agreement, which is expected to get official blessing on Friday morning, includes wording which admits that global warming is happening and that it is "partially" due to human activities. It will shy away, however, from mentioning concrete actions and focuses strongly on technological solutions to adapt to climate change. With this compromise, Europeans as well as Americans would be able to claim victory. American President George Bush received strong backing on the opening day of the Gleneagles conference from a UK House of Lords report on the economic costs of tackling climate change.

On the other hand, the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit published a report this week predicting extreme changing weather patterns across Europe over the next eighty years. The findings of the MICE (Modelling the impact of climate extremes) report indicate that:

  • Heatwaves will become hotter and last longer over much of Europe;
  • Cold days with temperatures below freezing will decrease by up to four months in Northern Europe by 2070;
  • Southern Europe and the Mediterranean will experience drier prolonged droughts and reduced rainfall;
  • There will be an increase in winter rain over most of Europe leading to greater flood risk and water pollution;
  • The number of severe winter storms over western Europe will increase.

These changing weather patterns will have severe negative impacts for different economic sectors such as winter sports in the Alps or agriculture and forests in Southern Europe. Ten days ago, a report by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) also predicted a two-thirds increase in the costs of climate change effects by 2080.