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L’Aquila, Italy: In what represents modest progress in the climate change talks, leaders of the world’s largest economies meeting at the Major Economies Forum summit here convened by United States President Barack Obama agreed on some specific emission reduction goals and on moving towards a financing and technology transfer framework.
The group, accounting for 75 per cent of global emissions and comprising the G8, the G5, the other major economies Australia, Indonesia and South Korea, and Denmark that is hosting the United Nations climate change conference in December, agreed on several contentious issues for the first time in what Mr. Obama described as an “important stride forward” in the talks.
In the declaration issued at the end of their meeting, all nations recognised the imperative of not letting the global average temperature to rise beyond 2 degrees C over the pre-industrial levels. While the industrial countries will make robust aggregate and individual reductions in emissions in the medium term, the developing countries would take prompt actions that would represent a “meaningful deviation” from the business as usual model of polluting growth.
The leaders agreed both aggregate and national emissions should peak and start falling “as soon as possible,” with a different timeframe for the developing countries “bearing in mind that social and economic development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities.”
The part of the declaration on goals represented a compromise between the position of the industrial and the developing countries. The industrial nations meeting in the G8 summit had earlier committed themselves to reducing their emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, and called on the rest of the world to move towards the goal of reducing overall global emissions by 50 per cent by 2050.
The G5, representing China, Brazil, India, Mexico and South Africa, in their declaration called upon the industrial countries to reduce their emissions by 40 per cent in the medium term, by 2020. While the G5 and the other developing countries felt that a long term goal without an intermediate target would not be credible or scientific, the industrial nations argued on grounds of pragmatism and scientific feasibility that it may not be possible for them to commit to such a medium term goal.
Still, there were many “firsts” at this conference that were listed by Mr. Obama. Among them was that the developing nations acknowledged for the first time the significance of 2 degrees C metric and agreed to take meaningful action to lower their emissions in the medium term.
The G8 countries had arrived at a “historic consensus” on concrete goals, including the 2050 target and limiting the rise in temperature to 2 degrees Celsius. Along with the agreement on the peaking and on making emission reductions “measurable, reportable and verifiable,” they represented “very significant steps forward.”
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