Major Economies Forum Ends with Weak Climate Declaration

The United States-led “Major Economies Forum” met today on the sidelines of the G-8 summit to discuss progress towards a global climate change deal scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. The Guardian has published a draft declaration from the meeting.

The major accomplishment was a recognition that average global temperature needs to be stabilized at 2 degrees centigrade by 2050. How the world is going to get there is still unresolved.

Particularly disappointing was the absence of an agreement on specific reduction targets to be met in the mid-term (by 2020). Major developed country emitters, the US, Canada and Japan have been unwilling to make any mid-term commitments, preferring to shift focus to 2050.

Developing countries–whose emissions levels are rising significantly–argue that the historic big emitters need to take steps immediately before they will agree to any of their own reduction targets.

This is one of the key issues to be worked out before a global deal can be reached. Unfortunately, there is little time. A more vigorous agreement would have pushed the UN negotiations forward. As it stands now, low-level negotiators will meet next month in Bonn to continue talks. In the autumn, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon is convening a meeting of world leaders prior to the opening of the General Assembly. If the stalemate between the US bloc and developing countries is not broken by then, the prospects for an effective agreement to come out of Copenhagen will begin to recede.