Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Climate change: urgent inaction

In addition to reminding everyone of why we used to behead aristocrats, the G8 meeting in Tōyako has also been discussing one of the world's other major problems: climate change. And seized by the scale of the problem and the urgency of the situation, they have agreed to cut emissions by 50% by 2050.

This is being hailed as "progress", but there are two things we should remember. Firstly, the Stern Review recommended that rich countries such as the G8 would need to make cuts of60 - 80% by 2050 if we were to avoid dangerous levels of climate change. And secondly, that recommendation was relative to 1990 emissions; today, the G8 are trying to shift the baseline to "current levels". Which means they can't even keep the promises they made just a year ago in Heiligendamm.

More importantly, while our leaders promised cuts in the future, they gave no indication of how to get there, and steadfastly refused to name an interim target to drive emissions reductions in the meantime. In other words, faced with one of the world's greatest problems, they promised urgent inaction, while polluters keep right on polluting. If this is all our global leaders are capable of, then I think its high time we got some new ones.