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The leaders of the G8 will be meeting this week in Italy and on the table, of course, is just what these rich countries will do about climate change. We are down to about 150 or so days before the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen, and it's well known that without leadership from the G8, there will be no fair and effective deal. Here's what we can expect out of Italy.2 Degrees Threshold?
The big news this week were rumors that the U.S. is now willing at the G8 to sign onto language that supports a goal of a 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) limit in global temperature rise, a figure seen by the EU and many climate scientists as the climate tipping point. Just last month at a climate meeting in Mexico, the lead U.S. climate negotiator, Todd Stern, refused to publicly commit the U.S. to the number. The commitment should go a long way to convincing the world the U.S is serious about climate action.
At a G8 meeting last year, the countries agreed to a "vision" of cutting in half world greenhouse gases by 2050, but China, India and Brazil balked at that 2050 goal. These countries, according to WWF, must set goal to have their emissions peek by 2015 and get as close to zero as possible by 2050. Italy, WWF says, is the only G8 country on that path. Certainly, some countries in the G8 must be privately expressing concern over the U.S.'s relatively unambitious targets which are contained in the Waxman-Markey bill, now on its way to the Senate. The bill has a target of only 4 percent emissions reductions by 2020, compared to 1990 levels. It also contains massive amounts of offsets that may, if fully used, mean that the U.S. could not reduce emissions for decades.
The other big issues at the G8 will be financing for developing countries for climate change mitigation, adaptation, and technology transfer; short-term and long-term emissions reduction targets; and funding to avoid tropical deforestation, responsible for 20 percent of global emissions. WWF and other groups estimate that these rich countries will have to put serious money on the table for financing--maybe even as much as $140 billion dollars annually.
In letter sent to G8 leaders last month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked them to set “'ambitious and firm commitments' to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 25-40 per cent, the levels the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says are required on the part of industrialized countries to ward off the worst effects of global warming."