G8 Summit admits “grave concern” over slow progress of climate change action
Leaders at the G8 Summit reiterated their commitment to delivering action to tackle climate change, acknowledging they have “grave concern” about the failure to deliver sufficiently deep emission cuts and the economic and security risks that result from climate impacts. The British government had faced criticism from France and Germany for failing to include climate change on the main agenda. However, the final communique dedicates a page to climate change and states that “it is one of the foremost challenges for our future economic growth and well-being”. “We remain strongly committed to addressing the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly by 2020”. This includes wanting ICAO to come up with agreement on market based, and non market based measures, at its September conference. Specifically, the statement commits the G8 to supporting the UNFCCC’s efforts to deliver a new global climate change at the Paris Summit in 2015 and reiterates its desire to produce a more ambitious policy framework than the current one.
Aviation mention in communique, see below
G8 Summit admits “grave concern” over slow progress of climate change action
Final communique stresses that G8 leaders remain “strongly committed” to delivering ambitious global climate treaty
By James Murray (Business Green)
18 Jun 2013
Leaders at the G8 Summit have reiterated their commitment to delivering bold action to tackle climate change, acknowledging they have “grave concern” about the failure to deliver sufficiently deep emission cuts and the economic and security risks that result from climate impacts.
The communique released at the close of the summit at Lough Erne in Northern Ireland includes a series of commitments on climate change designed to underline the G8’s support for global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, including the long-running UN-backed negotiations that are scheduled to deliver a new international climate change treaty in 2015.
The British government had faced criticism from France and Germany for failing to include climate change on the main agenda for the two-day summit, which was instead dominated by talks on the war in Syria and global tax reforms.
However, the final communique dedicates a page to climate change and states that “it is one of the foremost challenges for our future economic growth and well-being”.
“We remain strongly committed to addressing the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly by 2020 and to pursue our low-carbon path afterwards, with a view to doing our part to limit effectively the increase in global temperature below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, consistent with science,” the statement reads.
It added that the G8 would work with a raft of international groups seeking to accelerate action on climate change, including the UNFCCC, the Major Economies Forum, the International Civil Aviation Organisation and International Maritime Organisation, both of which are currently working on proposals for new carbon pricing regimes, and Climate and Clean Air Coalition, which aims to curb emissions of short-lived climate pollutants.
The communique also acknowledges that climate change is “a contributing factor in increased economic and security risks globally” and commits the G8 to considering how to better respond to growing climate-related risks.
Specifically, the statement commits the G8 to supporting the UNFCCC’s efforts to deliver a new global climate change at the Paris Summit in 2015 and reiterates its desire to produce a more ambitious policy framework than the one currently in place.
“We also note with grave concern the gap between current country pledges and what is needed, and will work towards increasing mitigation ambition in the period to 2020,” the statement reads. “We reiterate our commitment to the developed countries’ goal of mobilising jointly $100bn of climate finance per year by 2020 from a wide variety of sources in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and are advancing our efforts to continue to improve the transparency of international climate finance flows.”
Elsewhere, the communique’s section on global trade sets out a new ambition to boost trade in green goods and aims thinly veiled criticism at the escalating trade war between the US, the EU and China over clean technologies.
“We will… keep our word to refrain from and roll back protectionist measures and support a further extension of the G20 standstill commitment,” the communique states. “We call on others to do the same. We commit our support to efforts to liberalise trade in green goods and services, emphasising that progress in this area will boost green growth. In this regard we commend Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) decision in September 2012 to reduce tariffs on environmental goods as an important contribution to this end.”
FURTHER READING from Business Green
- G8 Summit sidelines climate change agenda
- Bonn talks make “concrete progress” towards global climate deal
Hey G8, what about the climate?
As leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the USA and the UK descend on Northern Ireland for their yearly G8 jamboree, even the most conservative of bodies are calling for urgent action on climate change. The World Bank, for one, has made it clear that the 4 degree warmer world we are heading towards (if we fail to act urgently) is not a place any of us want to be. And the International Energy Agency has just reminded the world that the vast majority of oil, coal and gas reserves need to stay under the ground if we want life on earth to be pleasant rather than chaotic (a long overdue recognition of the “carbon logic”).
Yet, if you look at the G8 summit´s website, climate change is consipicuous in its absence. That did not used to be so.
Back in 2007, 2008 or 2009, for example, climate was a key issue these countries fought over. Now it reportedly took heavy lobbying from Germany and France for Cameron (who promised to run the “greenest government ever”) to even agree to talk about climate change at all. With such bad preparation and lack of political capital being invested in getting the G8 to send a leadership signal on climate, it’s hard to see how the summit can produce anything but meaningless platitudes.
But do prove me wrong, dear G8 leaders, please do! French president François Hollande, after all, has already called on you all to “do … [your] part and give a strong political impetus to curb carbon emissions.”
Here is a simple guide to making me eat my words.
The G8 should set out clearly how existing commitments to finance climate action, adaptation and ending deforestation will be met and how much “climate finance” each G8 leaders will make available for countries in need between 2013 and 2015.
The leaders should also commit to innovate ways of generating the money urgently needed to fight poverty and climate change. This should include making the international shipping and aviation industries pay for their excessive damage to our climate, taxing financial transactions and redirecting the absurd amount currently being spent on fossil fuel subsidies to financing the energy revolution we need.
As a German, it makes my blood boil that even a country like Germany spends $6.6 billion on financing climate destruction through fossil fuel subsidies, but has only pledged some 500 million in terms of financial support to those countries that need support to act.
While they are at it, G8 leaders also need to show that they are serious about agreeing a new, legally binding, fair global treaty on climate change at the UN climate summit 2015 in Paris. To be credible, they need to deliver a peak in climate damaging emissions before 2020 and therefore need to set out immediate steps by each G8 nation to step up their efforts between now and 2020.
I am not holding my breath, but you are allowed to wake me up any time of night if you hear rumours of the G8 agreeing to such an action agenda.
By the way, I am not for a moment saying that the issues this summit will focus on instead of climate change – trade, tax compliance and transparency – are not important. The free trade agenda the G8 still holds onto, though, is likely to make our environmental vows worse, not better.
And it´s odd that the transparency discussion is not being linked to climate change. After all, climate change is a driver for “land grabbing”. Initiatives such as Publish What you Pay, however welcome, are all too often about payments that facilitate the extraction of the very oil, gas and coal reserves that we know we need to find ways of leaving in the ground.
That said, this G8 may yet deliver something on tax which is positive for people and planet. I can only salute the excellent work done by other civil society groups on the outrage of corporate tax dodging. Their campaign work has indeed resulted in the “highest pressure yet on the tax dodgers” this week.
Corporations avoiding taxes is not only plainly unfair, it also results in there being less money available to tackle climate change, poverty and to pay for other vital public service. So here is to hoping that public pressure will result in a real step forward on ending tax evasion. I am keeping my fingers crossed.
Frankly, the G8 should have an interest in delivering something on tax compliance as doing so could allow them to argue that the G8 is not completely irrelevant in a multi-polar world. For the climate, the importance of the G8 is not in doubt.
For starters, the G8 nations still emit the a big chunk of all climate damaging gases worldwide (and have emitted the vast majority historically). And while everyone who has a high carbon footprint needs to act no matter where they live (from Manila to New York), there is no question that if the G8 nations sent a signal of leadership on climate change that would be a huge deal.
It could change the ‘you go first’ dynamics of the climate negotiations and send clear signals to markets and investors that they cannot assume that fossil fuels will be a good long term investment.
I am not holding my breath. But especially if our leaders fail us – again – in Northern Ireland this week, I am asking for your help. We must hold their feet to the fire at home and make them act. One first opportunity to do so will be the End the Age of Coal action day on 29 June. Join in and remind world leaders that we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground if we are to have a decent future for all.
Also LSE blog at
The burning hole at the heart of the G8 agenda. Why was climate change marginalised at the 2013 G8 summit?
The Climate Change page of the G8 communique says:
56. Climate change is one of the foremost challenges for our future economic growth and
well-being. We remain strongly committed to addressing the urgent need to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions significantly by 2020 and to pursue our low carbon path
afterwards, with a view to doing our part to limit effectively the increase in global
temperature below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, consistent with science.
57. We will pursue ambitious and transparent action, both domestically and internationally, in the UNFCCC, complemented by actions addressed through other relevant fora, including but not limited to:
the Major Economies Forum (MEF), where we will work with our partners to
secure progress on the MEF Action Agenda and to overcome differences on the
road to the global deal in 2015;
the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), where we call for the
agreement at the Assembly in September 2013 on an ambitious package
related to both market-based and non-market based measures to address rising
the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), where we continue to work
together on further measures to address the issue of shipping emissions;
the Climate and Clean Air Coalition which we all committed to join at our last
Summit, where we will build on the eight global initiatives already begun and
further develop the scientific evidence base and private sector involvement.
58. We recognise climate change as a contributing factor in increased economic and
security risks globally. The G8 has agreed to consider means to better respond to this
challenge and its associated risks, recalling that international climate policy and
sustainable economic development are mutually reinforcing.
59. In the UNFCCC we will work to ensure that a new protocol, another legal instrument or
an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all parties is
adopted by 2015, to come into effect and be implemented from 2020. We also note with
grave concern the gap between current country pledges and what is needed, and will
work towards increasing mitigation ambition in the period to 2020. We reiterate our
commitment to the developed countries’ goal of mobilising jointly $100billion of climate
finance per year by 2020 from a wide variety of sources in the context of meaningful
mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and are advancing our efforts to
continue to improve the transparency of international climate finance flows. We welcome
the efforts of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to mobilise political will through
2014 towards a successful global agreement in 2015 during the Conference of the
Parties that France stands ready to host. We look forward to the fifth Assessment Report
of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
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