G8 lagging in race to cut emissions

Posted by Laura Grant on July 3, 2008
Posted in Green News

(Grahic: © WWF/Meike Naumann)

None of the leading industrialised nations are on target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to avoid the threshold level for unacceptable risk of catastrophic climate change, according to new research into national policies and performance.

The G8 Climate Scorecards 2008, compiled by climate consultancy Ecofys on a joint commission from environmental organization WWF and international financial services provider Allianz, was released four days before the G8 summit in Japan.

Leading the race is the UK, which is projected to reach its Kyoto target and has introduced innovative policies such as the Climate Change Bill. France lies in second place just ahead of Germany, which performs best on renewable energy, but all three are at best half as far along the road as they should be, with the use of coal still a major problem.

Italy, Japan and Russia are firmly entrenched in mid-table, while bringing up the rear are Canada and the USA which, according to the report, “is no surprise given rising emissions and energy-intensive economies and their failure to realise the full potential of energy efficiency improvements”.

“Time is running out,” said Regine Günther, Director of the WWF Climate Change Programme in Germany. “We have 10 to 15 years left in which the global emissions have to peak and decline. The world is at a crossroads where decisive action now could translate into economic success.”

The scorecards rank the G8 countries according to nine quantitative indicators, including past emission trends since 1990 and progress against the country’s Kyoto target. It also scores performance on three specific policy areas – energy efficiency, renewable energy, and development of carbon markets.

Dr. Joachim Faber, holding board member of Allianz SE, said: “The G8 countries have a responsibility to be high achievers in the race against climate change. They need to be role models trail-blazing the way to steer the world towards a low carbon, clean energy economy.”

Leaders at next week’s summit in Japan should commit to a binding long-term target for emission reductions of 80% by 2050, and as close as possible to 40% by 2020, the report states. “We expect the Japanese Presidency of the Hokkaido Summit to commit the G8 countries to significant and binding emission reduction targets,” said Günther.

“The G8 should pledge financial and technology support for low carbon development and for adaptation measures in developing countries that are measurable, reportable and verifiable.”

The report analysed the policies of emerging economies Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa and, while noting that they cannot be measured by the same criteria, stressed that the question of how industrialised countries will assist these five countries remains key. – From WWF (www.panda.org)


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