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July 4, 2008 / Mridul

G8 Summit: Agreement On Emissions Goal A Pipe Dream

To show their commitment for the fight against climate change the world leaders claim that they support binding emissions reduction goals. Some, like Canada, even say that they won’t be a part of any non-binding goal. But are these leaders really that serious about cutting reductions and do they possess the political will to face their parliaments & citizens when they present the binding emissions reduction scheme, if it is agreed upon?

Maybe some like the European leaders do possess such determination and will since most are already on their way to implement new energy policies with definite targets for use of renewable sources and also enjoy backing of their citizens; but most of these leaders in addition to the Indian and Chinese Prime Ministers don’t seem much eager about binding goals.

Germany has taken impressive strides in its endeavor to produce a good portion of its energy requirements through renewable sources. The German government provides healthy subsidies on solar energy equipment to its citizens who can also participate in a feed-in tariff scheme. Britain’s Gordon Brown recently unveiled his governments £100 billion scheme to promote renewable energy production. However, the British government also confessed that it under reported the country’s carbon emissions. France and Italy being members of the European Union are bound by EU’s own energy production and emission reduction goals.

In contrast, Russia has categorically refused to cut back on its carbon emissions under any future binding goal putting the success of the 2012 emissions in doubt even before any comprehensive talks can begin. United States agreeing to a binding under the the Presidency of George W Bush seems highly unlikely, to the say the very least. The Bush Administration doesn’t even allow individual states to form their own emission policies hence it’ll be foolish to expect the US to accept a binding emissions goal. Instead of asking automakers to manufacture greener cars, the administration pressurizes the EPA to formulate policies under their influence.

A rather strange call from the Chinese President made clear his government’s lack of interest to move towards clean energy from fossil fuels.

Hu Jintao called on developed countries to step up efforts on emission reduction, and provide financial and technical support for developing countries.

A country with the world’s largest forex reserves asking for funds to fight climate change and transform its fossil fuel based economy to a renewable energy based one tells all about its leadership’s intents in the fight against the rising carbon emissions. To add to that a Chinese official called developing countries ‘victims’ of climate change caused by emissions of developed countries. Strange, since China is now the world’s biggest polluter.

And for the sake of formality, the Indian Prime Minister tried to impress the world with a new national energy policy with emphasis on solar energy. Without setting any targets the Prime Minster tried to show the world that India is willing to switch to renewable energy sources. It would be very hard for the India to ignore its vast coal reserves in favor of the clean energy sources; ditto for China.

Although the world leaders and the biggest polluters talk about a binding emissions reduction goal but it is clear that most of them aren’t willing to commit to any binding goals that might pose threat to their economic development especially at this time of global economic crisis.


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