Statement of organizations affiliated with the G8 Action Network, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan, July 9, 2006
The G 8’s communiqué regarding their action on climate is actually inaction being masked as movement. It is a great fraud being perpetrated on the global community that would significantly reduce its capacity to contain climate change. We fully agree with the statement of the Government of South Africa that “[W]hile the Statement may appear as a movement forward, we are concerned that it may, in effect, be a regression from what is required to make a meaningful contribution to meeting the challenges of climate change.”
Retreat from Bali
The announcement of the agreement among the G8 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally by 50 per cent by 2050 is actually a step back from the minimum action that was demanded by the global community during the United Nations Summit on Climate Change in Bali last December. In Bali, opposition from the US, Japan, and Canada almost killed a developing consensus that should commit industrialized (Annex 1) countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25-40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020. That developing consensus also projected the minimum cut needed by 2050 to be in the range of 80 to 90 per cent if the rise in global temperature was to be kept below 2 degrees centigrade in the 21st century.
The G8’s 50 per cent formula is objectionable on several counts:
First, the G8 formula is a global cut, not one undertaken by the industrialized or Annex One countries, so big polluters like the US can actually free-ride on the rest of the world.
Second, the cut has no clear baseline. It was revealing that in announcing it, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda initially said it was from 1990 levels, then had to take back that statement and subsequently mentioned a 2000 baseline.
Third, this declaration of intent is not binding and there is no indication that the G8 want to bring their “commitment” fully under the United Nations climate negotiations framework that would bind its signatories. Indeed, the G8 announcement reinforces the G8 as a site for climate action that rivals the UN process and effectively subverts it. Not surprisingly, the G8 declaration emerged as part of a parallel process known as the “Major Economies Meeting.” The Major Economies Meeting is a US initiative to wrest decision-making on climate from the United Nations framework and process.
All in all, the G8 announcement is one giant step away from meaningful mandatory reductions and significantly increases the chances of the planet slipping into uncontrolled climate change.
Another setback to the cause of effective climate action was the G8’s endorsement of the World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds, to which the communiqué said certain countries had already pledged $6 billion. Civil society groups monitoring the Bank’s environment program had already warned the G8 that there are very serious concerns that the funds would be heavily oriented toward funding large-scale coal plants. Without a clear definition of clean technology, the funds may be used to finance projects that do not clearly mitigate climate change or may take up resources that bring only minor or incremental change at a time that fundamental change is needed.
We must call a spade a spade. The G8 declaration does not constitute an advance but a step backward in the global community’s ability to deal with climate change. Saying that it is better than nothing or that it is realistic given the Bush administration’s opposition to significant action is to lend legitimacy to a dangerous charade.
The G8 has once again lived up to its reputation of being an obstacle to the global community’s efforts to come to grips with the challenges of our times. We repeat our call to disband this unelected body of rich country governments that acts as if it were the government of the world.
Focus on the Global South
Freedom from Debt Coalition
Friends of the Earth International
Institute for Policy Studies, US
Sustainable Energy and Economy Network
The G8 Communique on Climate: Regression, not a Forward Movement