Tuesday, July 08, 2008

G-8 Ministers Call For 50% GHG Reduction By 2050

Jul 8: According to a release from the G8 summit in Japan, the ministers have said, ". . . the G8 shares the recognition that we seek to adopt, as a global goal, the goal of achieving at least 50% reduction of global greenhouse emission by 2050. We the G8 have confirmed today here at Toyako that this long-term goal is an appropriate and necessary goal for the earth." While the goal 50% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions may seem very conservative to many, it is precisely the goal recommended by Tony Blair and The Climate Group last week in their presentation to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda [See WIMS 6/27/08]. That report, Breaking the Climate Deadlock: A Global Deal for Our Low Carbon Future indicated, "The trend of opinion -- scientific and political -- is clear, for reasons of energy security as well as climate change: we have to change the way we grow, to reduce radically our dependence on carbon. That is why a 2050 target of at least a 50 percent reduction in emissions should now be able to be agreed."

By comparison, Lester Brown at the Earth Policy Institute (EPI) issued a statement on July 2, indicating that it is time to implement Brown's "Plan B," which set as a necessary goal cutting net carbon dioxide emissions 80 percent by 2020. Brown said, "This would prevent the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, already at 384 parts per million (ppm), from exceeding 400 ppm, thus keeping future global temperature rise to a minimum" [See WIMS 7/2/08]. On June 20, a group of climate change interests launched 350.org, that says, "Below 350 parts per million (ppm) carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is the number that the most recent science indicates is what must be achieved or the planet will risk huge and irreversible damage."

Various other targets have been set in legislation currently being discussed in Congress. The iCAP bill (H.R. 6186) introduced by Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) would caps pollution at 85 percent below 2005 levels by 2050 [See WIMS 5/28/08]. Representatives John Dingell (D-MI) and Rick Boucher (D-VA) in their many meetings in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and its Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, have been discussing a cap-and-trade regulatory program designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a specified level of 60-80% by 2050. The highly debated Boxer-Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008 substitute (S. 3036 substitute for S. 2191) would reduce emissions from covered facilities 19% below current levels by 2020, and 71% by 2050. It is estimated to reduce total U.S. emissions (from all sources, capped and non‐capped) by up to 66% by 2050.

The G-8 Ministers indicated that the long-term goal of 50% by 2050 "requires the wisdom and cooperation of the entire world." The G-8 said it will set up a new international initiative for the research and development of innovative technologies to contribute to the realization of a low-carbon society. Furthermore, the G-8 will implement ambitious economy-wide mid-term goals in order to achieve absolute emissions reduction. In addition, new multilateral “Climate investment funds” have been set up to assist the efforts of developing countries [See WIMS 7/7/08]. In this context, Japan said it will promote its “Cool Earth Partnership Initiative.”

The Ministers said, "When we look back, the past year has been a long journey. Since agreeing to 'seriously consider' a long-term goal, at last year, Heiligendamm Summit, Japan, as the Chair of G-8, has repeatedly conducted difficult negotiations. We have arrived at the agreement reached today. It goes without saying that the achievement of the long-term goal will only be realized with the contribution for other major economies. . . Based on the strong resolve expressed here today at Toyako, we will begin efforts to lead to the common action on a global scale."

The Ministers released an "Environment and Climate Change" document summarizing their actions on climate change and other environmental issues such as promoting clean energy, nuclear energy infrastructure, poverty eradication efforts, the partnership between developing and developed countries, support of the IEA [International Energy Agency] to develop roadmaps for innovative technologies (including capture and storage), finance and investments, support of the Action Plan for Climate Change to Enhance the Engagement of Private and Public Financial Institutions adopted by the Finance Ministers, reduction or elimination of trade barriers on environmental and climate change services, encouraging Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD), conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity, implementing the principles of the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), and promotion of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).

At a press briefing by the White House officials, Dan Price, Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs and Deputy National Security Advisor, attempted to clarify what the 50% goal really means and said, "The G8 declaration makes clear that the G8 is not seeking to impose its view on anybody. In respect of the goal, the G8 declaration expressly states, we seek to share with all parties to the U.N. Convention the vision of, and together with them, to consider and adopt in the U.N. negotiations the goal of achieving at least a 50 percent reduction of global emissions by 2050. . . expresses the view of the G8 that they are seeking -- seeking -- together with the other parties to the U.N. Convention, to consider and adopt a goal of achieving at least a 50 percent reduction -- all right? I noted that in our view, and in the view of the leaders in the room, this represents substantial progress from last year."

Access a release from the G-8 (
click here). Access the Environment and Climate Change document (click here). Access links to all G-8 Summit documents (click here). Access the G-8 Japan Summit meeting website for additional information (click here). Access the Finance Ministers Action Plan (click here). Access the White House press briefing transcript (click here). Access the White House G-8 2008 website for additional information (click here). Access the announcement and links to the Plan B summary report with references (click here). Access the 350.org website (click here). [*Climate, *Energy]