Friday, July 10, 2009

G8's More Aggressive GHG Targets

During their annual summit this week the leaders of the G8 agreed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

The leaders also outlined continuing efforts to restart economic growth and international trade. Once again indicating that there is a powerful relationship between the economy and efforts to combat climate change.

The agreement announced this week is believed to be a direct result of US president Barack Obama's involvement. His view on global warming is in stark contrast to his Republican predecessor's position and is consistent with the rest of the G8.

According to a July 9, 2009 ENN press release, the G8 recognized the “broad scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2˚C.”
Climate negotiators have recently acknowledged that half of global warming is caused by CO2 and the other half by non-CO2 emissions. So alongside reductions in CO2, G8 leaders also made a commitment to taking action to reduce other GHGs including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), methane, tropospheric ozone (ground level smog), perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride and black carbon soot.

The Montreal Protocol is scheduled to open next week in Geneva. It focuses on regulating substances that deplete the ozone layer and is one of the first international environmental agreements that includes trade sanctions and major incentives.

It is hoped that a deal can be reached before the Montreal Protocol concludes in Egypt the first week of November. Congressmen Waxman and Markey, and Senators Boxer and Kerry sent a letter to President Obama asking the Administration to support amending the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs. The Waxman-Markey climate bill that recently passed the House would phase down HFCs under a separate title.

Although environmental groups decry the lack of short-term targets, the agreement between the leaders of the G8 paves the way for a binding global agreement to cut GHG emissions at the UN conference in Copenhagen (COP 15) later this year.

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