G5 leadership

As I mentioned earlier, in order to move forward we need the only member of the G8 that has yet to commit to Quantified Emission Limitation and Reduction Objectives (QELROs) to do it soon. From the US we expect comparability of efforts, by which we understand comparability of targets and of compliance, captured in a legally binding manner under the convention. The US must negotiate its commitment together with all nations, and these commitments must be encoded in US domestic legislation. We cannot accept anything that suggests that, because the US has done so little for so long, we must allow them to do less than what is required by science in future.

The signals from President Obama have been encouraging, even though in substance the new administration is still on a zero reduction below 1990 levels by 2020. This is clearly not acceptable. Although this is an opening bid, the US would need to come forward with a meaningful negative percentage soon. The same applies to Japan, Russia and Canada, and to the very disappointing announcements on mid-term targets by Australia.

During 2008, the G8 proposed a long-term global goal for emission reductions of 50 per cent by 2050, without a base year and without mid-term targets. We would argue that this proposal does not meet the required-by-science criteria. Without a base year it has no credibility. It is based on the lowest common denominator in the G8 grouping.

During the G8 Summit the G5 have made a much more detailed and more ambitious proposal, also supported by many G8 countries, which essentially has three elements:

1 Developed countries should take the lead with ambitious and absolute emission reductions of between 80 and 95 per cent below 1990 levels by mid century.

2 Quantified emission targets under the Kyoto Protocol should be towards the upper end of the range of 25 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 for all developed countries.

3 There should be deviation from business-as-usual emission trajectories in developing countries, supported and enabled by technology and financing.

For South Africa this comes as a political package. To be meaningful, a long-term goal must have a base year, it must be underpinned by clear, unambiguous and ambitious mid-term targets for developed countries, and it should be based on an equitable burden-sharing paradigm that reflects historical responsibility for the problem. Without a base year and mid-term targets, a commitment to '50 per cent by 2050' is an empty slogan without substance.

We were disappointed that some G8 countries continue to reject the ambitious package that we strive for. We would have liked to see much more from the G8. If they accept the G5 package, it would pave the way for significant progress in the current climate negotiations. The developing world gave two steps forward. The ball is now in the G8's court to respond and to deal with the reality of the lowest common denominator between them.

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