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G8 + climate change « Previous | |Next »
July 11, 2009

The G8, which is being held in L'Aquila, Italy, has addressed the neo-liberal growth machine economy by saying that they have agreed to limit the global temperature rise to 2C, to cut world emissions 50% by 2050, and for the G8 to reduce its own pollution 80% by that date. Sounds good doesn't it.

Unfortunately India or China were not present. The developed rich countries no longer have the lion's share of emissions, and that any action they take is pointless without the co-operation of developing nations such as China and India. The G-8 summit was a funeral ceremony. The G-8 is dead, at least as a global leadership forum. It has now been reduced to a mere talking shop for certain heads of state and government. The important decisions are made elsewhere -- at the G-20, for example.

BrookesPG08Italy.jpg Peter Brookes

The developing countries want the G8 nations to sign up to a 40% cut by 2020, but that figure is off the radar of the EU and, given the unwieldy legislation laboriously passing through the senate, not a possibility for the US. Australia is talking in terms of a 5% cut to its greenhouse emissions resulting from stoking the global carbon economy with cheap, dirty coal. Developing countries will commit once they have certainty that developed countries are committing themselves.

What we can infer from the above is that all the signs indicate that the cut to emissions from cap and trade schemes, renewable energy and d energy efficiency will not be enough to prevent a 2% increase in temperature. Global heating is a reality. What happens then? What is going to be done after we have awoken from the neo-liberal dream of an eternal economic boom?


In a talk at the Adelaide Festival of Ideas entitled Climate Change is a crisis of overproduction not overconsumption Brendan Gleeson, the Director of the Urban Research programme at Griffith University, argued that the state will need to intervene big time.

The speed of climate change is interpreted by natural scientists in terms of them saying that that we have the next ten years to avoid a terrible tipping point, after which we face the unthinkable prospect of runaway climate change.

Gleeson's argument was that since capitalism is not able to fix its market failure of global heating so the state needs to step in to protect society from the consequences of global heating. As in World War 2 capitalism is suspended in order to deal with the crisis. 'Deal' means adapting to the negative effects of increased temperatures: a blast furnace of drought, heat and hurricanes. The 10 year drought, which may or may not be over, is a postcard from our future.

Hopefully this suspension of capitalism would result in an ecological modernisation that would decouple economic growth from environmental damage through careful institutional and technical transformation.

It was unclear from Gleeson'ss lecture how this decoupling would be achieved by the state.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:37 PM | | Comments (9)


not even Kevin Rudd reckons world leaders' have much chance of hammering out critical climate change limits in Copenhagen.

There is a significant difference between INTENTION, DECLARATION and PRACTICAL REALIZATION as clear in addition from a modest Michael Kerjman’s opinion on the issue: -Modern Epoch Air Trading - Keeping World Cool

Well Al Gore remains optimistic.

Then again the G8 signed up to ‘clean coal’ produced by carbon capture and storage even though there are no coal-fired power plants capturing their carbon today, only a handful of demonstration projects, a lot of research, mainly publicly funded, and a the private sector that is reluctant to invest much in this technology.

The Economist has a good article on carbon capture and storage:--Trouble in store It's mostly hot air by politicians. The coal industry is not even willing to use its own research and development to develop and apply a technology that proved safe, effective, competitive and ready for widespread adoption in a carbon-constrained world.

The Economist's article points out why politicians see carbon capture and storage as the high tech fix:

CCS particularly appeals to politicians reluctant to limit the use of coal. Coal is the dirtiest of fossil fuels, and burning it releases roughly twice as much carbon dioxide as burning natural gas. The world will struggle to cut greenhouse-gas emissions dramatically if it continues to burn coal as it does today. Yet burning coal is one of the cheapest ways to generate power. In America, Australia, China, Germany and India coal provides half or more of the power supply and lots of jobs (see chart). Rejecting cheap, indigenous fuel for job cuts and international energy markets is seen, naturally enough, as political suicide. CCS offers a way out of this impasse.

Though n a purely technical sense, CCS looks promising, it is very expensive. They can only be built with very generous subsidies.

Alan Kohler in Business Spectator says that

The 10-year old international project to stop global warming has descended into a complete shambles....Essentially the world’s politicians have given up on doing something during their lifetimes....All meaningful action has been put off for between 10 and 20 years....Carbon capture and storage is simply one of the phrases used to put off genuine action now, like the emissions trading scheme as currently proposed.

That is speaking truth to power.

The G8 summit's proposed that developed countries should reduce their greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050 to prevent more than two degrees of global warming.

A question: Is an 80% cut likely to prevent two degrees of warming?

The G8 agreed that the world should aim to limit warming to 2°C by asking rich countries to cut emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, and for the world to cut emissions by 50 per cent.

The latest science is saying that aiming for 2°C is dangerous and, even so, to achieve 2°C global emissions must be cut, not by 50 per cent in 2050, but by "60-80% immediately".

As things currently stand the EU would be carrying the developed world to the 25 per cent target.

developing countries fear that they will be left carrying an unfair emission reduction burden as a result of inadequate actions in industrialised country and little concrete financial assistance .