Climate change at the G8 meeting this week


As you surely read or saw, the eight main world economies are meeting this week in Germany. One of the main topics is due to be climate change.

The beginning of the negotiation for after the Kyoto Protocol is due to begin this winter and this G8 cession will prepare this meeting. The Kyoto Protocol was not ratified by President Bush administration as he thought it would hinder the US economic growth.

But last week happened something that I have been waiting for for months. The US President is finally realizing that something needs to be done against climate change.

However, let us not hope for a total reversal of his previous politics on that matter. His idea, is that the 15 most polluting countries has to settle to an agreement that won’t have any fixed objectives.

President Bush’s idea is that each of the 15 most polluting countries (including China and India, not present in the current Kyoto Protocol ) set themselves their own goals regarding their energy mix and future needs. According to his idea, there would be no constraint, no deadline… it is indeed a very weak version of an agreement, but it is still something.

However, even if it is not what is mentioned in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), this is a dramatic shift in policy. The UNFCCC was behind the establishment of the Kyoto Protocol, which is the first small step in the fight against climate change. It sets precise target of carbon dioxide emissions for each country.

The US President idea is to bypass the UNFCCC which is the reference on climate change. This would be done in order to put the US back into the fight on climate change. To me this quite good as it is a sign that President Bush is changing his mind on climate change and that he takes this topic in hand and do not ignore the problem any more.

The European Union is willing to prepare the future of Kyoto, which will finish in 2012. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel wants the United States to be part of what I call Kyoto II. The EU idea is to agree on a two degree target which would require to cut by a half global GHG emission by 2050.

But President Bush is more and more alone in his stance on climate change as an IHT article proves :

Daniel Weiss, the climate strategy director for the Center for American Progress, a liberal advocacy group, said the Bush administration had a “do-nothing” policy on global warming despite U.S. allies’ best efforts to spur U.S. reductions.

“Our allies’ pleas for action add to the voices of many big corporations such as Dow, Shell, General Electric and General Motors,” Weiss said. “These and other Fortune 500 companies endorsed a 60 percent to 80 percent reduction in global warming pollution by 2050, the level scientists indicate that we must reach to stave off the worst impacts.

To conclude, I can say that President Bush seems to finally understand that something has to be done against global warming. However, he is not ( yet ? ) reversing his mind totally and do not accept the UNFCCC targets and objectives. So, there is change, but it is not sufficient.

I do hope that with the time, the United States Federal government will set specific target of dramatic reduction of GHG emissions in this country. More and more companies, cities and even states ( notably California ) are putting in place mechanisms that will lead to lower carbon dioxide emissions.

Source from the IHT : Bush urges 15 nations to set global emission goal by 2008

Read also from the IHT : Bold leadership or too little, too late?

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