Developing and emerging economies

10 Jul, 2009

Following Wednesday’s agreement within the G-8 on limiting the increase in the Earth’s temperatures to within two degrees of 18th-century levels, another eight countries sign on. Will it make a difference? Leaders of the world’s biggest polluting countries pledged on Thursday to step up their battle against climate change, accepting for the first time the scientific contention that a rise in average temperatures of more than two degrees Celsius would have catastrophic consequences for the planet. “We recognize the scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed two degrees,” said a statement issued after a meeting in Italy of the Major Economies Forum (MEF). The meeting, held on the sidelines of a Group of Eight summit in the Italian city of L’Aquila, brought together heads of state and government of the Group of Eight countries (Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United States) along with Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa, Australia, Indonesia and South Korea. These countries together account for more than three-quarters of world emissions. “We know that the scientists are right” Scientists have warned that if the world’s average temperature rises by more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, it will cause catastrophic changes to global weather patterns, triggering widespread storms, flooding, droughts and famines. Such changes, many say, would disproportionately affect the developing world. “This is an important step,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said of the two-degree goal. She added: “We still have a lot to do.” Merkel herself was a scientist before becoming a politician. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said there was a “common will” to see that large-scale changes to weather patterns be prevented through a “significant reduction” in the emission of greenhouse gases by 2050. However, the MEF meeting did not endorse an agreement reached on Wednesday by the world’s eight most industrialized nations that world emissions should be halved by mid-century. Cool reception In New York, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the two-degree goal was “not sufficient,” and should be backed by firm medium-term goals for emissions cuts to prevent the catastrophic impact of climate change. “The countries represented at L’Aquila are responsible for more than 80 percent of global emissions, and that is why they bear special responsibility for finding a solution to the political impasse,” Ban said in a statement. “If they fail to act this year, they will have squandered a unique historical opportunity that may not come again.” Thursday’s deal came just five months before world leaders are due to meet in Copenhagen to hammer out a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on cutting greenhouse gases. (Credit: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,4469321,00.html)

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