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TWN Info Service on Climate Change (July08/02)
14 July 2008
Third World Network

Climate: G8 and G5 leaders issue different climate messages
Published in SUNS #6515, Friday 11 July 2008

Geneva, 10 July (Martin Khor) -- Significant differences emerged in the positions on climate change of the G8 and G5 leaders at the summit meetings held in Japan in the past few days.

The differences also reflect the positions that the developed and developing countries in general have been making in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The G8 declaration includes many paragraphs on climate change. The most media-publicized part has the G8 seeking the vision (together with all UNFCCC Parties) to "consider and adopt in the UNFCCC negotiations the goal of achieving at least 50% reduction of global emissions by 2050."

In the same sentence, it says that this can only be met by a global response, in particular, by contributions from "all major economies".

This declaration is seen as an advance because in last year's G8 Summit, the US and Russia had refused to accept the 50% global reduction target, whereas this year, they had gone along with the other G8 countries to "adopt" this target.

However, this "adoption" seems to be in the form only of seeking to share this vision with other UNFCCC parties and to considering and adopting it together with these other Parties. It also seems conditional on contributions from "all major economies", although the identity of major economies is not clear.

The role of "major economies" is also stressed in other parts, for example, that achieving the UNFCCC objective is only possible through all major economies' determination to slow, stop and reverse global emissions growth. For a post-2012 climate regime, "all major economies will need to commit to meaningful mitigation actions to be bound in the international agreement" by end-2009.

There is no reference to the targets specifically to be met by developed countries, either for 2050 or for the medium term (for example, 2020). There is also no reference to the base year from which the 50% global reduction is to take place.

This is no technical omission. In other fora such as the UNFCCC, the EU has used the base year 1990 while Japan has used 2005, or sometimes "the present year" as the base year from which the 50% cut is to be undertaken.

Many analysts have criticized the G8 for not placing a base year, and also for not placing a target for themselves either for 2050 or 2020. The G8 leaders, such as the German Chancellor and the UK Prime Minister, however, are pleased that for the first time President Bush and the US seem at least to have accepted a global target for 2050.

The G8 declaration seeks to commit all major economies (which presumably include the G5 countries but also others not specified) to actions "to be bound", which goes beyond the language of what developing countries are to do under the UNFCCC's Bali Action Plan.

The G8 leaders also do not make detailed plans on implementing their commitments under the UNFCCC on providing finance and transferring technology to developing countries to enable the latter to take climate-related actions.

There is a listing of various financing and technology initiatives. But in the paragraphs on innovative technologies and financing, it is unclear what will be coming from private funds or activities, and what will be coming from public funds, and whether the latter will be in the form of payments and grants, or loans which have to be repaid.

The leaders of the G5 (comprising China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa), meanwhile, also met on Tuesday by themselves, a day before their meeting with the G8 leaders.

This year, they also issued their own G5 Political Declaration. This is an interesting development because in past meetings, the G5 leaders had been displeased by the kind of combined G8 plus G5 joint statement that had been issued by the G8 host country at the end of their joint meeting, which the G5 leaders felt did not accurately reflect their views or of the proceedings of the G8 plus 5 meeting.

The G5 declaration thus makes clear these developing countries' leaders' own positions, unadulterated by a combined G8 plus 5 statement.

The section on climate change in the G5 declaration stressed that a shared vision including on long-term global goal for emissions reduction "must be based on an equitable burden sharing paradigm that ensures equal sustainable development potential for all citizens of the world and takes into account historical responsibility and respective capabilities as a fair and just approach."

The declaration thus accepted that a shared vision, with an emissions reduction goal, should be developed but it did not mention a global reduction goal for 2050, presumably because such a goal is to be worked at through negotiations with the equity conditions spelt out.

The G5 leaders, however, placed targets for the developed countries, calling for quantified emission targets for these countries under the Kyoto Protocol after 2012, "of at least 25-40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 and by 2050, by between 80 and 95 per cent below those levels, with comparability of efforts among them.

The G5 also stressed the importance of enhanced financial support, mentioning new financial mechanisms without diverting financial and ODA resources from development. They supported exploration of China's proposal for setting a climate financing goal for all developed countries of 0.5% of GDP in addition to ODA for climate action in developing countries, and the Mexican initiative for a World Climate Change Fund.

The G5 leaders called for a strengthened scheme for technology transfer and "a comprehensive review of the intellectual property rights regime for such technologies in order to strike an adequate balance between reward for innovators and the global public good."

Meanwhile, a meeting was held in Toyako (Hokkaido) of the G8 plus G5 outreach countries on Wednesday, and following that a meeting on climate change and energy security of "major economies" (Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea and the G8 countries).

At the meeting, President Hu Jintao of China put forward a three-point proposal, according to Xinhua news agency.

Firstly, Hu said, major economies should play an exemplary role in fulfilling the commitments in the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol. The UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol, which have established the framework, principles and goals for international cooperation on climate change, reflect the differences in the level of economic development, historical responsibilities and per capita emissions among countries and set out the efforts that developed and developing countries should make respectively, he said.

"Developed countries should make earnest efforts to attain the goal of emission reduction defined in the Protocol and take concrete measures to honour their commitments of providing funding and technology transfer to developing countries," Hu said.

"Developing countries should adopt policy measures for mitigation and adaptation and make whatever contribution as they can to the fight against climate change in the context of sustainable development."

Secondly, major economies should actively advance international negotiations, said the Chinese president, adding that this year and the next are crucial to the effort in implementing the Bali Road Map.

Developed countries should make explicit commitments to continue to take the lead in emissions reduction, Hu said, adding that the "dual-track" negotiations should be pushed forward in a balanced way and concluded on schedule, and equal attention should be given to the four aspects of mitigation, adaptation, technology and financing.

Hu said that thirdly, the world's major economies should take the lead in carrying out practical cooperation. Financing and technology are crucial but weak links in cooperation on climate change, he said.

"There is now a huge funding gap in international cooperation on climate change. We should work to improve the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other existing financing mechanisms and promptly implement the projects under the Adaptation Fund to provide new and additional financial support for developing countries as they endeavour to adapt to climate change," Hu said.

Scientific and technological progress and innovation play a pace-setting role to tackle climate change, he said. Hu urged the international community to establish effective technology transfer and dissemination mechanisms and realize technology sharing to ensure that developing countries can get affordable technologies that are both climate-friendly and environment-friendly.

NOTE: Below are extracts from the G5 declaration and the G8 communique as they relate to climate change.

G5 POLITICAL DECLARATION relating to Climate Change

14. We urge the international community to address the challenge of climate change through long term cooperative action in accordance with the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol, especially the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. We take our responsibilities seriously and welcome the Bali Action Plan and the Bali Road map and are committed to the completion of negotiations by 2009.

15. Negotiations for a shared vision on long-term cooperative action at the UNFCCC, including a long-term goal for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions, must be based on an equitable burden sharing paradigm that ensures equal sustainable development potential for all citizens of the world and that takes into account historical responsibility and respective capabilities as a fair and just approach. It is essential that developed countries take the lead in achieving ambitious and absolute greenhouse gas emissions reductions in accordance with their quantified emission targets under the Kyoto Protocol after 2012, of at least 25-40 per cent range for emissions reductions below 1990 levels by 2020, and, by 2050, by between 80 and 95 per cent below those levels, with comparability of efforts among them.

16. We also urge the international community, particularly developed countries, to promote sustainable consumption patterns and lifestyles responsive to mitigation requirements.

17. For developing countries, adaptation is of cardinal importance, particularly given their vulnerability, limited capacity and inadequate means. We stress the need of scaling up resources for adaptation and strengthening of adaptive potential in developing countries in order to reinforce capabilities to prevent and confront the increased frequency and scale of natural disasters and the other adverse effects of climate change.

18. We, on our part, are committed to undertaking nationally appropriate mitigation and adaptation actions which also support sustainable development. We would increase the depth and range of these actions supported and enabled by financing, technology and capacity-building with a view to achieving a deviation from business-as-usual. In this regard, in the negotiations under the Bali Road Map, we urge the international community to focus on the core climate change rather than inappropriate issues like competitiveness and trade protection measures which are being dealt with in other forums.

19. Affordable access to adaptation and mitigation technologies, achieved through a suite of funding mechanisms, investment structures and policy tools, is a key enabling condition for developing countries to tackle climate change. We call upon the international community to work towards a strengthened scheme for technology innovation, development, transfer and deployment and a comprehensive review of the intellectual property rights regime for such technologies in order to strike an adequate balance between reward for innovators and the global public good.

20. Enhanced financial support for developing countries must cover incremental and opportunity cost to meet the challenges of climate change. New and innovative financial mechanisms must mobilize additional resources beyond the flexibility mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol and other instruments of the carbon market, without diverting notional or multilateral or ODA resources from the imperative of development and poverty alleviation.

21. Developed countries should commit clearly to significant additional financing to support both mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. We recognize the need for further financing options to complement, not substitute, the financial arrangements under the Kyoto Protocol. In this regards, we welcome for further exploration, inter alia, the proposal by China for setting a climate financing goal for all developed countries, such as 0.5% of GDP (in addition to ODA) for climate action in developing countries, as well as the Mexican initiative for a World Climate Change Fund.

EXTRACTS FROM THE G8 SUMMIT COMMUNIQUE

23. We are committed to avoiding the most serious consequences of climate change and determined to achieve the stabilisation of atmospheric concentrations of global greenhouse gases consistent with the ultimate objective of article two of the convention and within a timeframe that should be compatible with economic growth and energy security. Achieving this objective will only be possible through common determination of all major economies, over an appropriate timeframe, to slow, stop and reverse global growth of emissions and move towards a low-carbon society.

We seek to share with all parties to the UNFCCC the vision of, and together with them to consider and adopt in the UNFCCC negotiations, the goal of achieving at least 50% reduction of global emissions by 2050, recognising that this global challenge can only be met by a global response, in particular, by the contributions from all major economies, consistent with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

Substantial progress toward such a long-term goal requires, inter alia, in the near-term, the acceleration of the deployment of existing technologies, and in the medium- and long-term, will depend on the development and deployment of low-carbon technologies in ways that will enable us to meet our sustainable economic development and energy security objectives. In this regard, we emphasise the importance and urgency of adopting appropriate measures to stimulate development and deployment of innovative technologies and practices.

24. Making progress towards the shared vision, and a long-term global goal will require mid-term goals and national plans to achieve them. These plans may reflect a diversity of mitigation and adaptation approaches. Sectoral approaches are useful tools among others for achieving national emission reduction objectives. We look forward to discussing this issue with leaders of other major economies tomorrow and to continuing the discussions among the major economies and in the UNFCCC negotiations over the coming months.

We recognise that what the major developed economies do will differ from what major developing economies do, consistent with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. In this respect, we acknowledge our leadership role and each of us will implement ambitious economy-wide mid-term goals in order to achieve absolute emissions reductions and, where applicable, first stop the growth of emissions as soon as possible, reflecting comparable efforts among all developed economies, taking into account differences in their national circumstances.

We will also help support the mitigation plans of major developing economies by technology, financing and capacity-building. At the same time, in order to ensure an effective and ambitious global post-2012 climate regime, all major economies will need to commit to meaningful mitigation actions to be bound in the international agreement to be negotiated by the end of 2009.

25. Sectoral approaches can be useful tools to improve energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions through dissemination of existing and new technologies in a manner compatible with economic growth. We ask the IEA to enhance its work on voluntary sectoral indicators through improved data collection, complemented by business initiatives. We emphasise the importance of expeditious discussions in the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for limiting or reducing GHG emissions in the international aviation and maritime sectors, bearing in mind the distinct processes under the UNFCCC toward an agreed outcome for the post-2012 period.

[There are also many other paragraphs following this on energy efficiency, clean energy, nuclear power, adaptation, innovative technologies, finance and investments in developing countries, market mechanisms, trade barriers, forest, biodiversity, etc.] +

 


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