World unconvinced by G8 carbon pledge

The G8 industrialised nations have agreed to an 80% carbon cut by 2050 but while this progress has been welcomed, they have been criticised for failing to set medium term targets.

The G8 leaders met in Italy this week and agreed on the 2050 target – significant progress as it is the first time the US, Canada and Russia have signed up to such large emissions reductions.

The meeting also saw an agreement from the G8 and major emerging economies to set an aspiration to stop global temperature rising more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Two degrees is the commonly accepted maximum temperature shift before the world hits catastrophic climate change.

This is the first time China and India have agreed to shoulder part of the responsibility for meeting such a goal.

The G5 of emerging economies – China, India, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa – were not prepared to sign up to a specific target to control their own emissions, however.

And the G8 could not come to an agreement on a medium term target for emissions cuts by 2020.

Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the UN, said that while the 2050 agreement was welcome, it was not credible without an interim target.

“The time for delays and half-measures is over,” he said.

“The personal leadership of every head of State or government is needed to seize this moment to protect people and the planet from one of the most serious challenges ever to confront humanity.

“In order to achieve such a global goal, developed countries must lead by example in making firm commitments to reduce their emissions by 2020 on the order of the 25 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells us is required.

“It is disappointing to note that thus far, the mid-term emissions targets announced by developed countries are not in this range.”

Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie