The G8 meeting in L'Aquila, Italy is just ripe with quotes for the picking. Unfortunately, apart from statements of agreement that we must indeed hold global average temperature rise to 2°C, most of what was said seems a bit hollow. Case in point: President Obama's talk about the need of the wealthy nations of the world, and the US in particular, to take the lead on climate change.
Surely Obama is far, far a head of his Oval Office predecessor in his attitude on climate change, but sometimes the words don't quite align with actions:Developed Countries Have Historic Responsibility to Lead
Here's what AFP reports the President said in Italy following labeling the outcome of the talks an "historic consensus":
We also agree that developed countries, like my own, have a historic responsibility to take the lead. We have the much larger carbon footprint per capita. And I know that in the past the United States has sometimes fallen short of meeting our responsibilities, so let me be clear, those days are over.
The Science is "Clear & Conclusive"
Obama went on to say:
While we don't expect to solve the problem in one meeting, or one summit. I believe we have made important strides forward. I don't think I have to emphasize that climate change is one of the defining challenges of our time. The science is clear and conclusive and impacts can no longer be ignored.
All great from a theoretical, big picture standpoint. I have no doubt that the President believes all of this. But when it comes down to the details the whole thing falls apart.
US, G8 Actions Fall Well Short of the Science
The fact of the matter is that climate scientists say greater emissions reductions are needed in the short term (25-40% by 2020 from 1990 levels, not the 2005 levels put forth by Congress); the UN's scientists agree with that assessment; that's what developing nations of the world want the world's wealthy nations to commit to before they are willing to be part of an international agreement on climate change.
But the G8, still less the US Congress nor the President, can't muster the courage in public to agree to do what science says in required to prevent climate change.
If the lack of suitable strong mid-term commitments to reduce emissions coming from the world's wealthy nations meeting in Italy this week shows anything, it's that the historic consensus President Obama is referring to is the wealthy nations of the world not paying enough attention to the impact of their actions on those people most likely to be hurt by them.
Please Mr President, show the leadership you exhibited throughout your campaign and truly lead on climate change. Take the bold first step and insist the world's industrial nations commit to much stronger greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
Global Climate Change
Germany Leads, US Still Brings Up the Rear: G8 Nations' Climate Change Performance Rankings Released
G8 Nations Agree to Cut Emissions 80% by 2050 - Developing Countries Still Skeptical
G8 Pledges to Support Deforestation & Forest Degradation Reduction Efforts, Stop Illegal Logging