Climate change and the G8 meeting

All Souls, Oxford

Who would have thought – three or four years ago – that climate change would become the central focus of a G8 meeting? While the situation certainly demonstrates the problems that remain to be overcome (both American unwillingness to accept emission caps and the need to incorporate large and rapidly developing economies like India and China into such a system), the level of attention being directed at the problem is very welcome.

The sad fact is that Canada has the worst record of any G8 state, when it comes to the gap between our Kyoto commitment and our present level of emissions. For a state that prides itself on being a responsible global citizen, this is hardly a position that is tenable in the long term.

When Canada ratified Kyoto, we committed ourselves to emissions 6% below the 1990 level, achieved by 2012. At present, Canadian emissions are about 26% over. The United States, by contrast, is only about 16% above 1990 levels. The only G8 state on track to meet its commitment because of policy efforts is Britain. Germany has cut emissions, but not yet by as much as they pledged. Russia has much lower emissions, but it is on account of the collapse of their economy after 1989, rather than any self-restraint. Indeed, Russia ends up in the odd position of being able to sell credits for emissions that would never have occurred anyhow (the so-called ‘hot air’).

Global emissions continue to grow at a rate even higher than the most pessimistic option modeled by the IPCC. Indian and Chinese emissions are each up by about 100% since 1990. Everyone need to do better. Hopefully, the ongoing gathering of political energy will make that come to pass.

[Update: 7 June 2007] Unsurprisingly, the G8 seem to be developing a fairly toothless joint statement on climate change.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

10 thoughts on “Climate change and the G8 meeting”

  1. This isn’t going to chance until the oil companies realize that they will be taxed so heavily on their tar sands projects in ten or twenty years that they either give up the venture or come up with some real carbon capture technology.

  2. Quebec pulls trigger on carbon tax
    Province the first to force energy companies to pay as part of plan to reduce global warming


    June 7, 2007

    QUEBEC — Quebec will introduce Canada’s first carbon tax this fall, forcing energy producers, distributors and refiners to pay about $200-million a year in taxes as one part of an ambitious plan to fight global warming.

    Premier Jean Charest’s cabinet approved the plan yesterday. As of Oct. 1, all energy companies will be required to pay a special tax based on the greenhouse gas emissions they produce. The money will fund the province’s efforts to meet emission targets set for 2012 in the Kyoto Protocol calling for a 6-per-cent reduction below 1990 levels.

  3. “Unsurprisingly, the G8 seem to be developing a fairly toothless joint statement on climate change.”

    That’s a bit harsh.

    The most positive outcome of the three-day summit was America’s apparent shift closer to the G8 mainstream.

    The most important agreement was on climate change: a commitment at least to “consider seriously” the goal of halving global greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050…

    The agreement on climate change is a modest triumph for Angela Merkel, the German chancellor and the summit’s host. Although there was no firm commitment on numbers, the agreement accepts the need to develop a global framework, under UN auspices, by the end of next year, ready to replace the Kyoto protocol on climate change when it expires in 2012. There had been fears that Mr Bush would reject a UN-sponsored programme just as America has refused to ratify the Kyoto protocol whereby leading countries pledge to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions at least 5% below 1990 levels.

  4. Excuse me, but Could I get a full story above this messega that you wrote about the G8?

    Actually, I am a University Student of S.Korea and I have searched for this article.

    From, Seoul S. Korea.

  5. Oh, Sorry to bother you.

    I would like to correct the world ‘messega’ to ‘message’.


  6. Vince,

    I don’t really understand what you mean. This is just some commentary on the discussions about climate change taking place at the G8 summit. Looking at any news coverage from the event will tell you more about the climate issue.

  7. “But I would add to it by speculating that what will happen after Kyoto 2012 is this: industrialized countries (including this time the post-Bush U.S.) will accept national targets, and the developing countries will accept intensity-reduction targets, with the understanding that in a decade or so they too will take hard targets.”

    Globe and Mail debate

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