Downright Pathetic

July 9, 2008

So the G8 leaders finished their summit in Japan. They’ve (kind of) agreed to cut emissions in half by 2050. (Remember we need at least an 80% cut.)

Very, very little was new.

People all over the world are not impressed. 350 said it was ‘feeble’. AVAAZ called it “mush,” Greenpeace said it was “nothing but flower words,” and Oxfam said it “did nothing to lower the risk faced by the world’s poor.” WWF termed it downright pathetic

South Africa’s Minister for the Environment called it a ‘regression’. Mexico, Brazil, China, India and South Africa called on the G8 to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80% by 2050.

And, as the BBC helpfully points out, this ‘new agreement’ is exactly the same goal that the leaders of the G8 and nearly 200 other countries signed on to at the original United Nations climate change convention in Brazil in 1992.

350 explains why the G8 didn’t act:

‘How, you might ask, could the world’s leaders agree on so misguided a set of targets? One answer, of course, is the power of special interests over politics. But another is that they seem to be working off of very old information. According to the Financial Times, which ran a special section on the G-8 meeting Monday, “the goal was arrived at” by reasoning that “keeping the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere below 550 parts per million” would be enough to ward off disaster. But that number is two decades old—and if anyone still believed in it, their faith was shaken last September when the Arctic melted at record rates. We’re at 387 ppm now and the Arctic is melting. What does that tell you?

It tells us that we need badly to get to work—and that if we manage to spread a new, more acccurate number it could have real effects on the international negotiations. We’ve seen what happens when old science and political convenience rule the day; it’s time to bring our leaders up to date.’

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