L'Aquila, Italy. Photo: Michael Sineni via flickr
Climate change negotiations in Italy between the 17 nations of the Major Economies Forum, whose emissions make up about 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions, broke down last night on the issue of reducing emissions 50% by 2050. China and India refused to agree to such a limit, without greater commitment from wealthy nations to stronger mid-term cuts, and to pledges of aid and technology transfer. Reuters reports the following: India Again Calls for 25-40% Cuts From Wealthy Nations
Indian negotiator Dinesh Patnaik was quoted as saying, "For any long-term goals there have to be credible mid-term goals in the range of 25-40%."
These are the same emission reduction levels which a group of developing nations have been calling on rich nations to make for a few months now. And which, it should be mentioned, climatologists say are required to keep global average temperature rise below 2°C, but which no rich nation has pledged to meet.
2°C Target Part of G8 Statement
Patnaik also said, however, that it was agreed that keeping temperature rise to 2°C was the target to be reached and included in a final draft of the G8 statement on climate change. Reuters later confirmed this, citing an unnamed European source. That's the bright spot in all this.
Major Disconnect Between Rich and Poor Nations
The interesting thing seems to be the utter disconnect between the demands of the developing world and the rhetoric of the G8.
The former are saying that cuts in line with climate science are required and have indicated that they will go along with a global treaty where rich nations commit to these cuts—in other words, do what the science says is necessary.
Meanwhile, all the proposals from the world's wealthy nations fall well short of these targets (most notably, the laughably low targets in the US House of Representatives' American Clean Energy & Security Act, at an effective 4% from 1990 levels). Yet the G8 nations issue a statement saying they will continue to lead the way on climate change:
We intend to secure our present and future prosperity by taking the lead in the fight against climate change.
We call upon other industrialized countries and emerging economies to actively engage, consistently with the principle of common by differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.
It is the Poor Nations of the World Who are the Right Side of Science
The way I see it, we citizens of the wealthy nations of the world have a responsibility to make deep emission cuts and help out the emerging economies achieve low-carbon growth—just as India and China are saying. We have the technological capability to do so with less impact on our quality of living than in the world's poor nations. We also have the capability to assist with bringing these technologies to the developing world.
Unfortunately, the actions of the G8 show that they don't quite see things this way.
UPDATE: 2°C Temperature Rise Goal, Weak Emissions Reduction Targets Both Confirmed by G8
The 17 nations of the Major Economies Forum may not have agreed on emission targets reductions, but the G8 has. McClatchy is reporting that the G8 nations will confirm their commitment to 80% emissions reductions from industrialized nations by 2050. However the starting point in measuring those emissions has not been determined.
The usual international standard is from 1990 levels, but the climate change bill put forth in the United States measure reduction percentages from 2005 levels—essentially making reductions pledges more robust than they are.
Global Climate Change
On the Climate Bill Green Groups Mustn't Surrender When the Battle is Just Starting
India Won't Commit to Binding Emissions Reductions - Which is Why Rich Countries Must Make Deeper Cuts
Focus on Green Economic Development in Developing Countries, Not Just Emission Reductions: Chair of IPCC