climate change current affairs politics uncategorized

groundbreaking global semantics

Having promised strong leadership and urgent action on curbing emissions at last year’s G8, yesterday’s statement gives us an unusual opportunity to measure the pace of international change. The G8 decisions are an annual precis of the worst climate culprits’ progress in facing up to the task.

2007:
In setting a global goal for emissions reductions in the process we have agreed today involving all major emitters, we will consider seriously the decisions made by the European Union, Canada and Japan which include at least a halving of global emissions by 2050. – full statement (pdf)

2008:
“We seek to share with all parties to the UNFCCC the vision of, and together with them to consider and adopt in the UNFCCC negotiations, the goal of achieving at least 50% reduction of global emissions by 2050, recognising that this global challenge can only be met by a global response, in particular, by the contributions from all major economies, consistent with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.” – full statement

So after a year of ‘seriously considering’, the men in suits who rule the world have moved to ‘sharing the vision’, with a bit more time to ‘consider’, and more crucially, ‘adopt’ the goal of halving emissions by 2050.

There’s no denying that’s progress, particularly now the US are on board (godspeed November and the back of Bush), but I’d hesitate to declare it strong, decisive or urgent. Even if that goes through, adopting a goal is a far cry from actually legislating cuts in emissions. Still, it’s better than climate change falling off the agenda altogether. Let’s just hope world temperatures move at an even slower pace than our political processes.

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