It is already being billed as the most chaotic G8 ever. And that’s before it has even started. The Italian host, Silvio Berlusconi is facing a political crisis at home over his private antics as well as questions about hosting the venue in an active earth quake zone.
All the back-stage bickering threatens to undermine what is probably the most serious G8 Summit in years, just six months before the UN’s critical climate conference.
The BBC is reporting this morning that the G8 nations are to set a target to cut greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050, although the US is still said to be blocking short-term emissions targets which scientists say are needed for us to keep to that two degree mark. American officials have privately told the BBC “they just can’t cut emissions as fast as they know is required,” the report says.
To coincide with the G8 Summit, the Major Economies Forum is hosting a make or break Summit in Italy tomorrow to try and pave a way for a deal on climate change. The delegates should read a couple of reports have been published which once again show the seriousness of the challenge.
The first is by Oxfam which has released a report once again showing the growing size of the problem, which they call “the greatest peril to humanity this century”. Their experience in nearly 100 countries is definitive: hundreds of millions of people are already suffering damage from a rapidly changing climate, which is frustrating their efforts to escape poverty.
The report shows that climate change is seriously affecting our weather. “Farmers are all saying very similar things: the seasons are changing,” says Oxfam programme researcher John Magrath. “Moderate, temperate seasons are shrinking and vanishing. Seasons are becoming hotter and drier, rainy seasons shorter and more violent. We think that “changing seasonality” may be one of the most significant impacts of climate change for poor farmers, and that it is happening now. The results were striking because of the extraordinary consistency they showed across the world.’’
Their report argues that some 26 million people have already been displaced because of climate change. Much worse is to come too: Some 375 million people may be affected by climate-related disasters by 2015.
Oxfam argues that without action, we are in danger of going backwards: most of the gains that the world’s poorest countries have made in development and ameliorating the harmful effects of poverty in the past 50 years will be lost and irrecoverable.
So what kind of action is needed? According to a report by the Climate Group, which was launched this morning by ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the solutions are not rocket science: some 70% of the reductions needed by 2020 can be achieved by investing in energy efficiency. – lighting, vehicles, buildings and motors – and reducing deforestation.
The report argued that “Just seven known policies that are already being successfully implemented in different parts of the world can deliver these reductions: they just need scaling up”.
Two of these could be fatally flawed though: a reliance on carbon, capture and storage (CCS), which remains unproven on a large-scale and a new generation of nuclear power plants, with all the inherent problems of safety and proliferation.
For years, when he was Prime Minister, Tony Blair talked about action on climate and did nothing. Now he is pushing solutions that are flawed. You have to ask, are our politicians really up for the task of delivering radical CO2 reductions? What do you think?