Italy G8 summit key to global efforts on climate change
www.chinaview.cn 2009-07-05 18:57:28   Print

    ROME, July 5 (Xinhua) -- With climate change high on the agenda, the Group of Eight (G8) leaders are set to meet in the quake-stricken Italian town of L'Aquila from Wednesday to Friday.

    The G8 meeting comes as a deadline draws nearer for world leaders to endorse a new global warming pact at a UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in December.

    DECISIVE MOMENT

    The "Bali Roadmap," unveiled in December 2007, set a two-year deadline for a global agreement and pledged to complete a new UN climate treaty at the Copenhagen meeting to follow up on the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

    However, the journey from Bali to Copenhagen has been dogged by squabbles between developed and developing nations and among developed nations themselves.

    At the latest UN climate change talks held in Bonn in early June, the 50-page draft for a new global warming treaty grew to more than 200 pages stuffed with rival proposals after its maiden hearing.

    Meanwhile, on June 27, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed the "American Clean Energy and Security Act," a legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The bill came as a hard-won victory for President Barack Obama, who is keen on a leading U.S. role in tackling global warming.

    The L'Aquila summit is the last G8 summit before the December Copenhagen meeting. Under Obama's initiative, a major economies forum for 17 countries, which account for some 80 percent of the global emissions, is scheduled for Thursday on the sidelines of the summit. If the leading powers could sew up differences on global warming at the summit, L'Aquila will be a landmark on the road to tackle climate change.

    THORNY ISSUES

    Italy, which holds the current G8 presidency, wants the summit to agree that global greenhouse gas emissions should peak by 2020 and world temperature change should be limited to 2 Celsius degrees above pre-industrial levels.

    According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a rise in temperatures of more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels would be dangerous for the delicate balance of Earth's climatic system.

    The two targets have been accepted by the European Union, but not by G8's non-EU members -- the United States, Russia, Canada and Japan.

    Meanwhile, the leading economies are using different time frames when setting cap goals: some looking to 2012, 2020 or 2050. They are also basing emissions cuts on different baselines: some comparing to 1990 levels, others to 1997 levels or 2005 levels.

    In the first round of the Bonn talks in early April, the United States said it was considering cutting its emissions by 14-17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, which means the U.S. 2020 goal amounts to a merely 4 percent cut compared to 1990 levels.

    On June 10, the Japanese government announced a plan to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, which translates into an 8 percent cut from 1990 levels.

    Australia set its emission target on 5-15 percent by 2020 compared to 2000 levels, while Canada plans to cut by 20 percent by 2020 on 2006 levels.

    The European Union (EU) has promised to cut emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and by 30 percent if other rich nations follow suit.

    U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern said in late May that rich nations as a group are unlikely to reach the deep 2020 cuts in greenhouse gas emissions as part of a new UN climate treaty.

    According to the IPCC, all developed countries should cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 25-40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels to tackle climate change.

    Another thorny issue for developed countries is how to channel money and technology to the poor to help deal with climate change, as an estimated 100 billion to 200 billion U.S. dollars will be needed to support developing countries to tackle climate change.

    The EU has urged the leading economies to split the bill based on their historical emissions and current wealth, but the bloc members have so far failed to agree on how to split the bill among themselves.

    Meanwhile, some developed countries want a new sliding scale to redefine developing nations and demand more actions by the wealthier developing countries in slowing global warming.

    In April, Japan submitted a draft text of the new climate pact to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), bringing up the concept of "wealthier developing countries."

    In the draft document released on May 20, the UNFCCC also passed the buck to poor nations, setting emission reduction goals for developing countries by 2050.

    This has drawn fierce criticism from developing nations, presenting another obstacle on the way to a successful Copenhagen meeting.

    "The countries gathering in L'Aquila have the biggest responsibility to show leadership on climate. Without their action we cannot expect the rest of the world to move," environmental group World Wildlife Fund said Friday.

Editor: Wang Guanqun
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