G8 takes an important step forward

Posted: 7 June 2007

The G8 agreement on climate change, announced at the meeting of industrialised countries in Germany today, contains important steps forward with all G8 countries agreeing to negotiate a UN deal to reduce emissions in the long-term by 2009. Heads of State, however, failed to give concrete figures and timelines.

Campaigners warned that today's statement is weak and lacks substance, but said it shows that public pressure to stop global warming and keep it below 2°C over pre-industrial levels has led Canada and Japan closer to the EU's position.

All countries, except the US and Russia, made a non-binding pledge to cut the climate change-causing gases by at least half by 2050. Scientists say that such a cut is necessary to try and keep the increase in global average temperatures below the 2 degree centigrade figure.

The eight countries agreed to launch a comprehensive negotiation on climate change under United Nations auspices starting with the UN climate conference in Bali in December 2007 and to end the negotiations by 2009.

"The support by the EU, Japan and Canada to cut carbon pollution 50 per cent by 2050 means we are a step closer to taking real action for the world's climate," said Hans Verolme, Director of WWF's Global Climate Change Programme. "We are pleased that the world's most powerful nations are ready to begin negotiations in Bali in December this year, and want to conclude an agreement in 2009 that will keep the climate safe. In Bali we will see what the agreement is worth."

Real cuts needed "But real emission cuts still have to be negotiated, and countries must recognise the need for staying below 2°C. Global carbon marketswill be buoyed by the clear support from the G8 for a 2009 end date to the post-2012 negotiations" added Verolme. "The fact that the US has signed up to this agreement is significant, now is the time for concrete actions."

Keith Allott, Head of WWF-UK's Climate Change Programme said: "WWF commends Germany's Chancellor Merkel for pushing hard for as robust an agreement as possible. But Tony Blair has staked his legacy on securing a tough emissions reduction goal and encouraging George Bush back into the UN process. He has made progress only on the second point - and even here, the proof of the pudding will come later."

Friends of the Earth International Climate Change campaigner Yuri Onodera said: "We have already seen many empty promises by G8 leaders over the past years but there has not been much real action, so we urge G8 leaders to act now and cut their greenhouse gas emissions drastically and immediately."

"The US administration, which continuously obstructed the fight against climate change, did not manage to prevent world leaders here from pledging that they will take multilateral action," he added.