Legislators Urge G8 Action on Climate Change

February 16, 2007
Legislators who hold key environmental posts from 13 of the world’s largest industrialized and developing countries urged their countries’ leaders to agree at the upcoming G8 summit in Germany to work together to cut CO2 emissions that threaten catastrophic climate change. Christopher Connell, who has been covering the two-day Legislative Forum on Climate Change for CGD's Views from the Center blog, filed his third and final report: Consensus Statement from G8+5 Legislators on Climate Change The lawmakers brought to Washington by GLOBE International – a nonprofit group seeking to rally international parliamentary support for strong measures to combat climate change – unanimously endorsed a consensus statement (PDF) exhorting global leaders to set a goal of stabilizing atmospheric carbon dioxide at between 450 million and 550 million parts per million. They urged the Group of Eight nations – the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia – and leaders of China, India, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa to agree on such "a measurable long-term goal" at the G8 summit in June in Heiligendamm, Germany.
“Action on climate change needs to take account of the differing circumstances of developed, developing and poor economies, recognizing the need for economic growth and access to energy to alleviate poverty. But we must be clear that climate change is a global issue and there is an obligation on us to take action," the statement said.
The United States never signed the 1997 Kyoto protocol to cap emissions, and India and China also refused to submit their fast-growing economies to the constraints. The Kyoto protocol runs its course in 2012. To ensure that the next international compact is more effective, the legislators said that leaders of the G8+5 at the upcoming summit in Heiligendamm should "agree on the key elements of a post-2012 framework," and press for launching global negotiations at the December 2007 Bali meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, with the aim of hammering out an agreement by 2009. The 80 lawmakers who attended the forum in the majestic Senate Caucus Room on Capitol Hill suggested that the elements for a framework include: a. Long term targets for developed countries b. Appropriate targets for developing economies c. Incentives for measures to reduce deforestation d. Incentives for sustainable development policies and measures in developing countries e. Programs focusing on capacity building, access to technology and financial incentives to help developing countries invest in more efficient and low carbon technologies f. For the most vulnerable developing countries, increased access to climate data, cooperative research on key technologies for adaptation in agriculture and health, giving priority to disaster prevention and improved resilience to climate variability. Lord Michael Jay, former head of the British diplomatic service and ambassador to France, spearheaded the writing on the two-page consensus statement. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a videotaped address to the forum Wednesday, said the recommendations from the legislators’ forum could help ensure that "the new, open way of thinking" about global warming in Washington is followed by the necessary decisive action. World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz told the lawmakers in a meeting at Bank headquarters Wednesday evening that the economic growth that has lifted 500 million people out of poverty in China, India and other developing countries in the past quarter century must be sustained, even as the world acts to counter the damage caused by rising CO2 levels. "Today, we have a double challenge—how to reduce damaging carbon emissions, while still meeting the energy demand that the world’s poor need to escape poverty. We cannot penalize countries escaping from poverty for what is the result of a fossil fuel dependent growth pattern in rich countries," Wolfowitz said. (full remarks) Learn more about CGD's new initiative Confronting Climate Change.


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