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G8 summit declaration

Filed under: — stefan @ 8 June 2007

We assume that many of our readers will be interested in the declaration of the G8 summit in Heiligendamm (Germany), which was agreed yesterday by the leaders of the G8 countries. We therefore document the key passages on climate change below. As usual we refrain from a political analysis, but as scientists we note that it is rewarding to see that the results of climate science are fully acknowledged by the heads of state.

The declaration states:

CLIMATE CHANGE

48. We take note of and are concerned about the recent UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports. The most recent report concluded both, that global temperatures are rising, that this is caused largely by human activities and, in addition,that for increases in global average temperature, there are projected to be major changes in ecosystem structure and function with predominantly negative consequences for biodiversity and ecosystems, e.g. water and food supply.

Fighting Climate Change

49. We are therefore committed to taking strong and early action to tackle climate change in order to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Taking into account the scientific knowledge as represented in the recent IPCC reports, global greenhouse gas emissions must stop rising, followed by substantial global emission reductions. In setting a global goal for emissions reductions in the process we have agreed today involving all major emitters, we will consider seriously the decisions made by the European Union, Canada and Japan which include at least a halving of global emissions by 2050. We commit to achieving these goals and invite the major emerging economies to join us in this endeavour.

50. As climate change is a global problem, the response to it needs to be international. We welcome the wide range of existing activities both in industrialised and developing countries. We share a long-term vision and agree on the need for frameworks that will accelerate action over the next decade. Complementary national, regional and global policy frameworks that co-ordinate rather than compete with each other will strengthen the effectiveness of the measures. Such frameworks must address not only climate change but also energy security, economic growth, and sustainable development objectives in an integrated approach. They will provide important orientation for the necessary future investment decisions.

51. We stress that further action should be based on the UNFCCC principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. We reaffirm, as G8 leaders, our responsibility to act. We acknowledge the continuing leadership role that developed economies have to play in any future climate change efforts to reduce global emissions, so that all countries undertake effective climate commitments tailored to their particular situations. We recognise however, that the efforts of developed economies will not be sufficient and that new approaches for contributions by other countries are needed. Against this background, we invite notably the emerging economies to address the increase in their emissions by reducing the carbon intensity of their economic development. Action of emerging economies could take several forms, such as sustainable development policies and measures, an improved and strengthened clean development mechanism, the setting up of plans for the sectors that generate most pollution so as to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions compared with a business as usual scenario.

52. We acknowledge that the UN climate process is the appropriate forum for negotiating future global action on climate change. We are committed to moving forward in that forum and call on all parties to actively and constructively participate in the UN Climate Change Conference in Indonesia in December 2007 with a view to achieving a comprehensive post 2012-agreement (post Kyoto-agreement) that should include all major emitters.

53. To address the urgent challenge of climate change, it is vital that major economies that use the most energy and generate the majority of greenhouse gas emissions agree on a detailed contribution for a new global framework by the end of 2008 which would contribute to a global agreement under the UNFCCC by 2009. We therefore reiterate the need to engage major emitting economies on how best to address the challenge of climate change. We embrace efforts to work with these countries on long term strategies. To this end, our representatives have already met with the representatives of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa in Berlin on 4 May 2007. We will continue to meet with high representatives of these and other major energy consuming and greenhouse gas emitting countries to consider the necessary components for successfully combating climate change. We welcome the offer of the United States to host such a meeting later this year. This major emitters’ process should include, inter alia, national, regional and international policies, targets and plans, in line with national circumstances, an ambitious work program within the UNFCCC, and the development and deployment of climate-friendly technology. This dialogue will support the UN climate process and report back to the UNFCCC.


455 Responses to “G8 summit declaration”

  1. 1
    Karen Kohfeld says:

    It was interesting to see how this particular G8 meeting developed in the eyes of the press. Here is a sampling of headlines from 31 May 2007:

    SPIEGEL: Bush startet Offensive gegen Merkels Klima-Plane (Bush initiates offensive against Merkel’s Climate Change Plans)
    Suddeutsche Zeitung: Bush torpediert Merkels Klimaplane (Bush torpedoes Merkel’s Climate Change Plans)
    CNN: Bush urges 15 nations to set global emissions goal
    Fox: Bush Unveils New Climate Change Strategy
    CBC: Bush calls for climate change talks, new target by 2008
    BBC: US urges new climate goals
    Guardian: G8 leaders fight over global agreement on climate change

    It’s kind of enlightening to see how differently the same news is presented to different countries and audiences.

  2. 2
    Ksero says:

    Halving global emissions by 2050… If we assume a linear reduction, approximately where would the CO2 levels stabilize? How much warmer would our planet be, according to recent models and estimations?

    [Response: Halving global emissions by 2050 (relative to 1990 levels) should give us a good chance to stop global warming short of 2 ºC above preindustrial temperatures. Allowing 2 ºC maximum warming is the official policy of the EU, Japan and Canada. I say "a good chance" because there are some uncertainties in the carbon cycle (which determines what CO2 concentrations will result from given emissions), in climate sensitivity (which determines how much warming you get given a certain CO2 concentration), and in aerosol pollution (which offsets some of the warming we are causing). Also, 2050 is not the end point - we need to keep reducing further after 2050 to stay below 2 ºC. Final thought: note the 50% reduction is global. Since industrial nations have far higher per capita emissions than other countries (e.g., US=20 tons/yr, Europe=10 tons/yr, China=4 tons/yr), industrial nations will have to reduce a lot more if some degree of fairness is to be achieved (without which important nations like China or India are not going to join the effort). That's why some European countries are aiming towards 80% reduction of their emissions by 2050. -stefan]

  3. 3
    Tim Jones says:

    “In setting a global goal for emissions reductions in the process we have agreed today involving all major emitters, we will consider seriously the decisions made by the European Union, Canada and Japan which include at least a halving of global emissions by 2050.”

    Meaningless language.

    “To address the urgent challenge of climate change, it is vital that major economies that use the most energy and generate the majority of greenhouse gas emissions agree on a detailed contribution for a new global framework by the end of 2008 which would contribute to a global agreement under the UNFCCC by 2009.”

    Looks to me like all this language comes right up against the US wall against meaningful action until doofus is over the hill. I’m ashamed for my country.

  4. 4
    SecularAnimist says:

    Stefan quotes the G8:

    We are therefore committed to [...] stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system [...] we will consider seriously the decisions made by the European
    Union, Canada and Japan which include at least a halving of global emissions by 2050.

    Setting aside any “political analysis” of the implications of “consider seriously” as to whether the stated goal has any prospect of actually being achieved, I would be interested in RC’s scientific analysis of whether “a halving of global emissions by 2050″ (compared to what baseline level of emissions?) is actually sufficient to “prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”

    Especially since it seems to me that ALL of the empirical observations of what is happening to the Earth right now are consistent with “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” being already well under way and accelerating rapidly as a result of GHG emissions to date, rather than being a future possibility that could be prevented.

  5. 5

    Good question in comment 1 from SecularAnimist. Regarding the politics of it all, it’s interesting to note Kimberley Strassel sees it in the Wall St Journal Opinion Pages : Bush 1, Greens 0

  6. 6
    Timothy Chase says:

    Especially since it seems to me that ALL of the empirical observations of what is happening to the Earth right now are consistent with “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” being already well under way and accelerating rapidly as a result of GHG emissions to date, rather than being a future possibility that could be prevented.

    I would agree – but I would also say that while things are going to be bad, they will be much worse if we continue to emit carbon dioxide at present levels. The positive feedback which will result from the carbon dioxide we have already put into the atmosphere will be quite substantial – but it will be much worse if we continue along the current path. The sooner we limit emissions, the more limited such feedback will be. And I would like to see us avoid 1000 ppm if at all possible – including the strong positive feedback from the carbon cycle itself.

  7. 7
    Fergus Brown says:

    re #2: Ksero; there’s a BOTE guess on http:/fergusbrtown.wordpress.com/
    It’s probably wrong; someone here will correct it, I am sure. Hope this helps,
    Fergus.

  8. 8
    Sock Puppet of the Great Satan says:

    “Regarding the politics of it all, it’s interesting to note Kimberley Strassel sees it in the Wall St Journal Opinion Pages : Bush 1, Greens 0 ”

    Strassel’s a fool, not that that’s unusual in the reality-exclusion zone of the WSJ op-ed page.

    She either didn’t read, or her frontal lobes didn’t disgest, the implication of paragraph 52 and 53 of the G8 declaration. Bush’s attempt to go around the UN/Kyoto framework went nowhere: so its compulsory, not voluntary, reductions on the table. Yeah, post-Kyoto China and India will be in the mix, but that was always the intention as anyone familiar with the history of Kyoto would know. Bush’s capitulation got bought off with a paragraph or two on technology, but that’s it.

    “Looks to me like all this language comes right up against the US wall against meaningful action until doofus is over the hill.”

    But it was always going to be that way. At least now Inhofe will be a bit more embarrassed when he calls AGW a fraud.

  9. 9
    Angela says:

    But will the nations really fullfill there goals and not produce worse emmisions from coming technologies.

  10. 10
    Timothy Chase says:

    PS

    My response in #6 was in response to SecularAnimist in #4 but I apparently didn’t finish formatting.

    My apologies.

  11. 11
    Ike Solem says:

    An exercise in the use of Orwellian language?

    “1) The most recent report concluded…. that global temperatures are rising, that this is caused largely by human activities

    2) We are therefore committed to taking strong and early action to tackle climate change in order to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system…

    3) We share a long-term vision and agree on the need for frameworks that will accelerate action over the next decade…

    4) We acknowledge the continuing leadership role that developed economies have to play in any future climate change efforts to reduce global emissions…

    5) This major emitters’ process should include…. the development and deployment of climate-friendly technology.”

    Notably missing from this document are any of the following words or phrases:

    Fossil fuels, coal, petroleum, natural gas, global warming, deforestation, renewable energy, solar, wind, carbon dioxide, methane, emissions caps, carbon taxes, insurance, catastrophic events, economic collapse, etc.

    Essentially, all they said is that they acknowledge that global warming is due to unspecified human activities, that it will have ecological consequences (no mention of economic consequences, other than the insinuation that taking action of global warming might threaten economic growth), and that coordinated global action is required, but that economic growth and energy security must be taken into account, and that they’ll meet to talk about it again.

    This document glosses over the fundamental problems: the need to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources, and the need to halt the ongoing deforestation trends. Since global fossil fuel use is dominated by the G8, and since much deforestation involves raw material export to G8 countries, the failure to plainly address these issues is an abdication of responsibility.

  12. 12
    biffvernon says:

    Whatever G8 leaders say, there is little chance that we will beat the oil depletion curve. 2050 takes us about 40 years beyond Peak Oil. We’ll burn all the conventional oil whatever happens, taking us up to maybe 450ppm CO2. We just have to keep fingers crossed on feedbacks at that level. What our wonderful leaders need to concentrate on is finding a way of ensuring that the coal, tar and shale stays locked underground.

  13. 13
    Dick Veldkamp says:

    Re #4 Measured against what?

    It seems to have become the convention to compare with 1990 emission levels.

    Regarding absolute levels, unfortunately news sources can’t seem to agree yet on kgs of carbon (molecular mass 12) or kgs of CO2 (mass 44), a factor 3.7 difference.

  14. 14
    Maggie says:

    This is a big step. Kudos to the (many) scientists who provided the information/analysis on which the policy makers based their decisions. This didn’t happen overnight, but they’re rolling along now.

    Take time to appreciate where we are now.
    And pat yourselves on the back!

  15. 15
    Timothy Chase says:

    biffvernon (#10) wrote:

    Whatever G8 leaders say, there is little chance that we will beat the oil depletion curve. 2050 takes us about 40 years beyond Peak Oil. We’ll burn all the conventional oil whatever happens, taking us up to maybe 450ppm CO2. We just have to keep fingers crossed on feedbacks at that level. What our wonderful leaders need to concentrate on is finding a way of ensuring that the coal, tar and shale stays locked underground.

    Perhaps, but we have plenty of fossil fuel to burn:

    It had occurred to Hogbom to calculate the amounts of CO2 emitted by factories and other industrial sources. Surprisingly, he found that human activities were adding CO2 to the atmosphere at a rate roughly comparable to the natural geochemical processes that emitted or absorbed the gas. The added gas was not much compared with the volume of CO2 already in the atmosphere – the CO2 released from the burning of coal in the year 1896 would raise the level by scarcely a thousandth part. But the additions might matter if they continued long enough.(2) (By recent calculations, the total amount of carbon laid up in coal and other fossil deposits that humanity can readily get at and burn is some ten times greater than the total amount in the atmosphere.)

    The Discovery of Global Warming: The Carbon Dioxide Greenhouse Effect
    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm

    (emphasis added)

  16. 16
    Alexander Ac says:

    Just to hope, these are not empty words… one thing is to say something and the second thing is to *do* something. Politicians have been speaking about the CO2 reduction for so long…

  17. 17
    Ike Solem says:

    Maggie, it really isn’t a big step; in fact, since no binding emissions targets are proposed, it is actually a step back from the original Kyoto protocol, opened for signature back in 1998, and which also contained the very same statement:

    “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”

    I suggest taking a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Carbon_Emission_by_Region.png

    Despite the protestations of US politicians about their concern about global warming, the facts are that US emissions are projected to increase at an unchanged rate – 11% per decade (see NYT Revkin 03-03-07) This means that the carbon emission trends are not expected to change.

    There is also no acknowledgement in the document of the economic problems that global warming is causing – see Stern report graph

    The only people who should be patting themselves on the back are the fossil fuel lobbyists, who once again have headed off meaningful action on global warming.

  18. 18
    Timothy Chase says:

    … and on the Glacier Front…

    (emphasis added below)

    WHILE world leaders talked about global warming in Germany, scientific reports of melting at the poles continued to flood in.

    In Antarctica, a satellite study revealed that hundreds of glaciers are speeding up as they flow into the sea. In Greenland, the number of days a year when snow melts is on the rise, NASA has found.

    Satellite observations of the Greenland ice sheet, which are made daily, have shown that the period when snow melted during 2006 was 10 days longer than the average for the previous 18 years.

    A study published in the journal Eos found the melt also occurred at higher altitudes than before.

    Dr Marco Tedesco, of NASA’s Joint Centre for Earth Systems Technology, said melted and refrozen snow absorbed up to four times more energy from the sun than dry snow, creating a feedback loop that could accelerate melting.

    Glaciers one day, sea the next: melting of poles gathers pace
    Email Print Normal font Large font Deborah Smith Science Editor
    June 9, 2007
    http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/glaciers-one-day-sea-the-next-melting-of-poles-gathers-pace/2007/06/08/1181089326379.html

  19. 19
    biffvernon says:

    Projected US emissions may be based on optimistic assumptions about oil production rates. Oil is such a useful fuel it will all be used as fast as it can be produced. Not using oil in one sector of the economy just allows it to be burnt in another sector. The effort has to switch to not burning coal and unconventional oils if we are to limit CO2 emissions.

  20. 20
    Tim Jones says:

    The declaration states:
    “In setting a global goal for emissions reductions in the process we have agreed today involving all major emitters, we will consider seriously the decisions made by the European Union, Canada and Japan which include at least a halving of global emissions by 2050.”

    “…less than Kyoto.”

    I wrote this was meaningless. Actually it’s even more disingenuous. Peak fossil fuels will have come and gone by then. The halving will be perforce. In the meantime the world will have burned every molecule of carbon it can find.

    The G8 didn’t commit to take meaningful actions to curb C02 emissions by keeping fossil fuels or their oxidation products in the ground. In the meantime the greedheads serving the industrialized nations with raw materials are cutting down the tropical (terrestrial) carbon sinks as fast as they can keep the chainsaws gassed up.
    see:
    Expansion of Industrial Logging in Central Africa
    Science 8 June 2007:
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/316/5830/1451?etoc
    -
    After the rainforests are gone in Africa, S.A. and Indonesia they’ll replant it in African oil palms and sugarcane for even more fuel to add to atmospheric load of greenhouse gas.
    see:
    “Why is oil palm replacing tropical rainforests?”
    http://news.mongabay.com/2006/0425-oil_palm.html
    Google over THAT.
    -
    There is evidence that the oceanic sinks are approaching saturation.
    see:
    “Vital Ocean ‘Carbon Sink’ Nearly Full”
    http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2007/05/17/southernocean_pla.html?category=animals&guid=20070517150030
    -
    More greenhouse gas on the way. Fewer ways to make it go away. What difference will it make it we commit to halve CO2 concentrations by 2050? By then we’ll be on a runaway train. Do we have inspired elected leadership? Or do we have cop-outs to business as usual as it becomes the theft of the future.

    Empirical evidence: there’s so much empirical evidence out there that something radical is happening it’s hard to keep up.
    How do you convert a gazillion tons of fossil fuel into 8 gigatons of CO2 a year and NOT cause an effect?

    Thanks RealClimate. Even Cockburn gets cooked on a slow burn here.

  21. 21
    pat n says:

    I think that if we are serious about the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions we’d show it by drastically cutting air and highway travel beginning with a freeze on all non-essential travel by air. I’d also stop fireworks celebrations.

  22. 22
    Andreas Müller says:

    For the leaders of this world climate change has priority 48, if my observation is correct that the list starts with a 48.

  23. 23

    Re #2, #7: A reduction of carbon emissions by half by 2050 is broadly consistent with stabilization at 450 ppm, which is generally viewed as somewhere in the ballpark of a 2 degree Celsius warming. Merkel apparently chose this target with a 2 degree limit in mind.

  24. 24
    Doug Heiken says:

    With the UN as the recognized forum for negotiating climate agreements, I suppose Bush & Co can rest easy, knowing that skeptics (US and China) can take turns with their vetos.

  25. 25
    Aaron Lewis says:

    As scientists, one of our duties is education. We need to make everyone clearly aware of the climatic implications of their actions, or lack of action.

    Our global climate is an environment for economic activities. Climate scientists need to proactively explain what climate projections mean for human economic and social activities. For example, at what point will open water in the Arctic affect the corn in Nebraska? At what point does warmer water in the Gulf of Mexico affect the airline traffic in Denver? This is a broader scope than climate scientists have seen for themselves in the past. Climate scientists need to educate people on what climate projections mean for biodiversity concerns. Again, this is new scope.

    Such proactive educational efforts will bring complaints that climate scientists are being alarmist, activist, and political. However, that is just the price of doing good science. Remember how Newton was rewarded for inventing the science that started us building mathematical models of physical systems? (He was locked up! His response was to write a textbook, and thereby to educate future generations.)

    For all that I admire about realclimate, it remains quire sedate, and respectable; even when the ice is melting much faster than the models predicted; even when global CO2 emissions are increasing faster than the models assumed. What do you say, when they look you in the eye and ask, “Why didn’t you tell us it was going to happen this fast?â�� and “Why did you not tell us how bad it really was going to get?” Are you going to say that there was an institutional policy against “being alarmist?”

    There is a fire! The time has come to stand up, and shout, �Fire!� The G8 leaders are not going to do anything until the Climate Scientists stand up and shout, �Fire! FIRE!, FIRE!� A calm and rational discussion of an issue does not get that issue to the top of a G8 Leader�s �to do list� these days. These G8 Leaders will have to hear real panic in their experts voices before they take action.

  26. 26
    bjc says:

    #21
    I assume you are joking? If not, what exactly is the impact of fireworks on GW?

  27. 27
    Paul Dietz says:

    Peak fossil fuels will have come and gone by then

    Even coal? If in situ gasification of coal is feasible — and it’s been done in Russia for decades — then a great deal of the stuff is potentially exploitable, even that left behind in closed underground mines.

  28. 28
    Chad says:

    I have several comments:

    First, several people have noted that the Kyoto treaty was binding and this declaration was not. I am a bit confused about the significance of the term “binding”, as most of the wealthy nations that signed the Kyoto treaty are going to break it. Only a handful will meet their targets, generally because of one-time factors rather than sustained change. Will these nations that signed the treaty and then broke it be punished? If not, what does “binding” really add to the equation?

    Second, how does population growth and decline factor into the equation? Japan, for example, is now loosing people and allows very little immigration. In contrast, the US has a much higher birthrate (around replacement levels for the native born), has an increasing native population due to the baby boom echo, and allows a large number of immigrants each year. Our population could easily increase by 30% or more by 2050, obviously making it much harder to meet any set percentage reduction in emissions. Europe falls somewhere in the middle. Is this accounted for in any way, and should it be?

  29. 29
    Timothy Chase says:

    Robert A. Rohde (#23) wrote:

    Re #2, #7: A reduction of carbon emissions by half by 2050 is broadly consistent with stabilization at 450 ppm, which is generally viewed as somewhere in the ballpark of a 2 degree Celsius warming. Merkel apparently chose this target with a 2 degree limit in mind.

    Very few countries are projected to meet their obligations under the Kyoto Protocol – even with the loop-holes and “cheating.” Halving emissions with increased population growth (as is required to meet the targets) currently seems highly unrealistic – without major investments in new technology. The United States is still refusing to participate, and both China and India insist on being exempt while modernizing their economies.

    Under the A2 scenario (which would seem far more likely), eleven different models involving carbon cycle feedback were run.

    The results?

    In the coupled simulations, atmospheric CO2 concentration ranges between 730 ppm for LLNL and 1020 ppm for HadCM3LC by 2100 (Fig. 1a). Apart from UMD and CSM-1, all models simulate historical CO2 close to that observed.

    Climate-Carbon Cycle Feedback Analysis: Results from the C4MIP Model Intercomparison.
    Friedlingstein P, Bopp L, Schnur R, Zeng N
    J Clim 2006 19:3337-3353

    (emphasis added)

    It should be noted that in their projections the IPCC has not taken into account the positive feedback from the carbon cycle. Likewise, they don’t seem to be doing that well with feedback from the cryosphere. The artic icecap is disappearing more rapidly than has been projected – as are the glaciers – and there is reason to believe that the positive feedback from the carbon cycle is already kicking in.

    From the ocean:

    The significant difference between the observed decrease of the CO2 sink estimated by the inversion (0.03 PgC/y per decade) and the expected increase due solely to rising atmospheric CO2 (-0.05 PgC/y per decade) indicates that there has been a relative weakening of the Southern Ocean CO2 sink (0.08 PgC/y per decade) due to changes in other atmospheric forcing (winds, surface air temperature, and water fluxes). For comparison, the mean Southern Ocean CO2 sink is estimated to be between 0.1 and 0.6 PgC/y (Table S1).

    Saturation of the Southern ocean CO2 sink due to recent climate change
    Corinne Le Quere, et al
    Science. 2007 May 17; [Epub ahead of print]
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1136188v1
    (subscription required)

    (emphasis added)

    We weren’t expecting that sort of positive feedback from the ocean until 2050.

    … but it doesn’t appear to be just the ocean:

    In general, we find that the remarkable feature of the 2002-2003 anomaly seems to be that climate fluctuations, not only related to El Nino and occurring across all latitudes, acted together to create an unusually strong outgasing of CO2 of the terrestrial biosphere. Further research will be required to investigate if this fluctuation carries features of projected future climate change and the CO2 growth rate anomaly has been a first indicator of a developing positive feedback between climate warming and the global carbon cycle.

    Impact of terrestrial biosphere carbon exchanges on the anomalous CO2 increase in 2002â??2003
    Knorr, et al
    Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 34 (5 May 2007), L09703.
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2007/2006GL029019.shtml
    (subscription or purchase)

    (emphasis added)

    There is more, but this is probably enough for right now.

  30. 30
    Tibor Kiss says:

    �The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best is now.� Chinese proverb.

  31. 31
    Nick Riley says:

    The G8+5 countries have a duty to keep to their declaration on climate change. We have a responsibility to hold them to account. Those of us working in this vital area of science and technology also have a duty to provide the knowledge base required to enable the target to be achieved.

  32. 32
    pete best says:

    It is interesting to note that as the world is projected to require 70% more energy by 2050 than is used now and begs the question of where this additional energy will come from if not from fossil fuels? This 70% increase in energy requirements may well come from sustainable energy and nuclear fission power perhaps but that still leaves present levels of carbon release unchanged. Maybe we can sequester carbon from coal but commercially that technology 10 years away from commercial proof and another 10 years away from global deployment making coal a decidely difficult energy decision for the carbon conscious. Lobbying of US congress however seems to win the day in many ways and I would not be suprised to see many new coal fired power stations in the USA and hence worldwide built in then ext decade without carbon capture fitted.

    I doubt that politicians truely understand the problem at hand, it is not as if we have a new energy technology ready to fill in for fossil fusl at the present time and whilst I am sure than energy efficiency can reduce carbon emissions by around 25% it will be left to the markets to decide this and that means awaiting the onset of peak fossil fuels to push up the price of it that will make other energy sources more viable. But with peak oil/gas comes the potential for war and resources contention.

    I applaude the G8′s acknowledgement of the seriousness of climate change but with 0.2 degrees decade temperature rises come 2020 that means 1 degree C will have already occured and I doubt that by that time the world would have seriously dented its carbon footprint. Then comes the next 50 years to 2 degrees. Maybe we can avoid that and I believe that is what the G8 are talking about, so called dangerous climate change.

    1 degree celcius is assured I take it and even real climate would not argue that point as the oceans have latent heat that comes some time after land warming of upwards of 0.5 C I believe. This 1 degree could assist methane release from arctic tundra and assist the drying out of biomass areas such as the Amazon and other rain forest basins.

    Is a positive feedback loop from nature itself a possibility ?

  33. 33
    Bruce Tabor says:

    Here is my prediction.

    Given the politics around AGW I don’t believe much of any consequence will be done to reduce CO2 emissions until climate change starts to really hurt the major emitters. By hurt I mean changes in weather that cause major famines and sea level rises that cause dislocation of large numbers of people. Essentially the economic costs of doing nothing would by then be comparable to the costs of taking drastic action.

    By then the major emitters will be China, India and US (probably in that order). At that time I expect the turn around will be surprisingly rapid (say 20 years for a 50-80% cut in CO2 emission from the peak) and a number of technofixes will be attempted to reduce solar insulation while atmosphereic CO2 is brought under control. (Whether that works or makes things worse I don’t know.)

    If someone could say when the effects of AGW will really hurt then I think we could get a good handle on the the level at which CO2 will peak.

    This is my personal view, but I am by nature a pessimist with not a great deal of confidence in human nature.

  34. 34
    pat n says:

    re 26.

    This is NOT a joke: Fireworks celebrations are harmful to the climate – they encourage travel and other excessive human activities harmful to global climate and life.

    However,

    This IS a joke (not funny):

    NOAA’s National Weather Service provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas, for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy.

    From the Mission Statement, above:

    Why is

    and the enhancement of the national economy

    in the NWS mission statement of NOAA’s National Weather Service?

    http://www.nws.noaa.gov/hdqrtr.php

  35. 35
    Nigel Williams says:

    Ive just read the G8 report in full, and from my laymans perspective it makes a good read. At the level G8s primary announcements emanate from they must take a very broad brush approach, but never the less the document entails a pretty fine list of things that must be attended to in the near future. They have a committee and a program for everything that needs doing.

    G8 recognises the need for urgency, but perforce it uses yesterdays bureaucratic systems to advance the cause. Very (extremely) inclusive and carefully worked processes, not dissimilar to IPCC. G8 cannot do anything else.

    The only minor problem for us all is that the pace of climate change is lining up to be orders of magnitude faster than the pace of technical, economic and social change that the G8 program will ever see.

    Interestingly G8 seeks more transparency in regard to the extractive raw materials sector � surely a hint that all is not well with the present estimates of reserves. But already we know that oil and many other critical minerals have very short viable production times ahead; peak oil and peak lots of other things as well. When sea levels start to rise we are looking at rebuilding homes, business, communities and infrastructure for a lot of people. I think it was Gore who observed that one billion people will be displaced by a 1m sea level rise. So demand for cheap and readily available building materials and systems will sharply increase, just as critical materials like bitumen, copper, zinc and many others fall off the market. Oops. Itll be recycled materials for the lot of us, or nowt.

    I have some sympathy with Tim Jones #20 and with the approach suggested by Aaron Lewis #25. But if we are to yell FIRE, there is certainly no point yelling it at the present fire brigade – the old fire companies donâ��t have any idea how to fight this fire.

    In a way this report may well go down as the Obituary for the G8 way of global organisation â�� a last gasp in the face of overwhelming odds. The final act of a desperate man – or is it the first act of Henry the Fifth? I think what is important is that suddenly the world doesnâ��t care about what the established order has in mind for us.

    We know we have to come up with a different paradigm. Most of us we are powerless to do much about emissions at a global scale. The coal-fired power plants will run unabated and un-muzzled until people stop paying. So all we ordinary folk can do is sort out how to configure our own patches to ensure the survival of our own children in a time of rapid climate and social change. But don�t worry, our emissions will certainly drop to close to zero, but alas too late. For a while it will be G1 � every man for himself. But eventually it will be a forlorn scramble at the local level for local resources. Those resources available to us will be the scraps that are left over after the raids by more powerful gangs. The picture will not be pretty. Slavery will be back in vogue.

    So thank you RC, keep up the good work of informing the politicians of our impending demise. In the mean time the rest of us will be making other arrangements.

  36. 36
    Tim Jones says:

    #27 Peak fossil fuels will have come and gone by then

    “Even coal?”

    Yes. I suspect the world will be well past the peak in production for all hydrocarbons by 2050.
    See: http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/2396

    See chart: http://www.theoildrum.com/files/possiblecoalproduction.gif

    Taking into consideration the revolution of rising expectations in India and China resulting in massive industrialization the consumption of fossil fuels may push the peak closer than the estimates.

    There is a parallel to global warming catastrophes derived from the concept of peak oil. You can see it here.
    http://dieoff.org/

    How this attenuates GW due to demand destruction is a question of how a world full of bad monkeys manage the future.

  37. 37
    climate skeptic? says:

    This Hansen model that is debated a lot… these 20 year “estimations”.

    Did it predict that global temperatures would pretty much stabilize for over a decade, beginning in 1995?

    My other question is that, what is the explanation for this?

    Many credible sources give 1998 (9 years ago) as the hottest year on record. 1995 and 1997 make the list between places 3rd and 7th. The global temperature trend 1995-2007 shows no warming.

    In a time when global CO2 emissions have been increasing enormously?

    What’s the catch?

  38. 38

    Re #29 And how are you going to get the G8+5 countries to keep to their declaration? At Gleneagles they promised $50 bikkion in aid with $25 billion for Africa, have did not delivered. Now they are promising the same again, but nothing on global warming. Bob Geldorf described the Aid issue a farce. At least it is a $50 billion farce. The amount to be spent on global warming means it is not a farce, it is nothing!

    Maggie, claimed this was a great achievement, and the scientists should congratulate themselves. In fact, they have produced four sets of IPCC reports and it has achieved zilch. Rather than patting themselves on the back, they should be looking to see where they have gone wrong, and working out how to FRAME their input so that it is effective.

    Stephen Schneider famously wrote So we have to offer up some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. â�¦Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective, and being honest. — Stephen H. Schneider, author of the book Global Warming (Sierra Club), in an interview in Discover Magazine, October 1989.

    Until the physical scientists who produce climate models take some lessons from the social scientists who study psychology, political science and the art of persuation, then we are going to see no progress.. CO2 levels will continue to rise, and the loss of land and sea ice, which keep the global climate in equilibrium, will accelerate. It is not just be the polar bears that will suffer when the global climate is disrupted. (Actually, forget the polar bears! unless that is the only way to get over to the public what is really happening.)

  39. 39
    Alan says:

    I’m glad the culprits have finnally acknowledged the planet really is “sick”, thanks mainly to the IPCC’s “diagnosis” that has been shoved under their noses. Pity they won’t be taking any medicine untill 2012, but it’s better than letting mother nature cut down the polutants all by herself.

  40. 40
    Alan says:

    RE #23:

    IIRC, Lord Oxborough suggested a target of 450pmm when he was chairman of the board at Shell.

  41. 41
    M.P. says:

    We can be so proud on what has been achieved in a mere 20 years time. Now lets define weather and climate so that the the next G8 meeting understands what we mean.

  42. 42

    I think government minds will slowly gain more focus on this issue as torrential rains occur periodically and as homes and cities are buried under massive winter snowfalls over the next few years. The people will start seeking the scalps of do-nothing politicians.

    Meanwhile the science community and people in general can work on new energy and efficient energy use, respectively. It appears Germany is leading in deployment of PV arrays, Denmark in wind power, others in other ways.

    There are numerous undiscovered sources of energy and there is much more that can be done with renewable energy.

    Some places may need assistance as conditions develop: Primarily Africa, but even Australia is having dire trouble with water supply.

    It is important to keep methods and techniques for green energy, renewable energy and energy efficiency available to ordinary people.

    Ultimately the USA gets to work on problem areas, but not until everyone is jumping up and down.

    I construe the G-8 Summit as a sign of progress this time around.

  43. 43
    Rod B says:

    Comment by Ike Solem â?? …..Since global fossil fuel use is dominated by the G8, and since much deforestation involves raw material export to G8 countries, the failure to plainly address these issues is an abdication of responsibility.

    Gee, Ike, did you really expect a G8 conference to issue an IPCC-partII? Between afternoon tea and evening cocktails maybe?? You AGW proponents got a collossal political jump forward, but you seem to be too myopic to see it.

  44. 44

    Stefan, Could you explain why (in #2), you say:

    Halving global emissions by 2050 (relative to 1990 levels) should give us a good chance to stop global warming short of 2 ºC above preindustrial temperatures.

    According to IPCC 4AR WGIII, Table SPM.5, reductions of 50% will get us somewhere between 445-535 ppm CO2equiv. Doesn’t Fig. SPM 8 show that, in that stabilization range, we’d have to be pretty lucky to stay below 2 ºC?

  45. 45
    Rod B says:

    Comment by pat n â?? …Why is and the enhancement of the national economy in the NWS mission statement of NOAA’s National Weather Service?

    Is there something unseemly about enhancing (or looking out for) the economy????

  46. 46
    Ike Solem says:

    Re#43,
    A ‘collosal political jump forward’ would be for the US to strip all subsidies from the fossil fuel industry, and to strip all subsidies from fossil-fuel intensive agricultural industry as well (over $35 billion a year), and to deliver those subsidies to solar, wind, and carbon-neutral agricultural industries – as well as instituting a hefty carbon tax on all fossil fuels, and agreeing to strict emissions caps, and mandating energy efficient technology in all areas.

    Re the ‘peak fossil fuel issue’, if all easily accessible fossil fuels in the ground are burned, atmospheric CO2 levels will hit 1500-3000 ppm (sink limitation issues and carbon cycle feedbacks create the variability). This is a repost from an earlier thread:

    “Now, the estimated total fossil fuel resources left to burn (as of 2000) from http://www.worldenergy.org:
    Conventional oil – 263 (GtC)
    Shale oil, etc. – 525
    Natural gas – 422
    Coal bed gas, etc – 450
    Coal – 3370

    The preindustrial atmospheric carbon dioxide content (as carbon) was 580 GtC (280 ppm), and as of 2000 was 750 GtC (380ppm)

    How many gigatonnes of carbon per year stay in the atmosphere? Around half, so if current total CO2 emissions (as carbon) are at 7.2 GtC (only looking at fossil fuels), then around 3.6 Gt of carbon stay in the atmosphere each year – and it’s worth wondering what processes account for the uptake of the other half… meaning that it’s possible that more CO2 could start lingering.

    If we burn all the fossil fuel, that means adding 5000 GtC to the atmosphere, (if half stays up, that’s 2500 Gt) and warmer oceans and stressed forests will probably absorb less CO2, resulting in a minimum CO2 content of around 1500 ppm (and probably quite a bit higher, due to sink limitations.. and the oceans may degas methane and CO2 if they warm up a lot …). There’s also no reason to assume that all that CO2 wouldn’t stay in the atmosphere for millennia, either – meaning no ‘global cooling effect’ after the fuel is gone. This is a bit beyond the worst-case scenario in the IPCC report.”

    Don’t rely on ‘peak production’ to solve the problem. Most of the remaining fossil fuels will have to be left in the ground.

  47. 47
    Jim Galasyn says:

    And I would like to see us avoid 1000 ppm if at all possible – including the strong positive feedback from the carbon cycle itself.

    We have good evidence that the wheels come off the biosphere at 1000 ppm, and probably well before. The Permian-Triassic extinction event was likely caused by a giant volcanic rift opened in what is now Siberia, and for tens of thousands of years it dumped gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere. The result was a globally anoxic ocean which contained only anaerobes, like purple sulfur bacteria and algae. These organisms released enormous quantities of hydrogen sulfide into the atmosphere, which had the effect of poisoning most life on land, and destroying the ozone layer. The resulting extinction event lasted several million years, and it was by far the worst mass extinction the planet has faced.

    In addition, the Paleoeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum was accompanied by CO2 concentration near 1000 ppm, and it resulted in the worst extinction event in the past 90 million years. Humans will add as much carbon to the atmosphere in 500 years (1800 to 2300) as the PETM did over 10,000 years.

    To my mind, we have to stay well away from 1000 ppm or risk literally destroying the world as we’ve known it.

  48. 48
    Philippe Chantreau says:

    Re 37: This has been addressed countless times, that’s probably why none of the more scientifically qualified writing here has bothered to respond to you. So, I’ll do it. The upward trend is still plain in the record. According to the best temp data sets, 2006 is either very close to or higher than the exceptional 1998, and the climb is steady from 1999. Exceptional years are going to happen. Trying to use 1998 to show that temperatures have decreased since is silly and will not fool anyone, at least on this site. I note also that exceptionally cold years are seriously lacking.

  49. 49
    David B. Benson says:

    Explore this link to understand why fossil fuels can be left in the ground, with many other advantages. Encourage production of biochar.

    http://www.shimbir.demon.co.uk/biocharrefs.htm

  50. 50
    Mark Taylor says:

    Re: 37

    Noone seems to be replying to this – are we supposed to ignore “climate skeptic”?

    I think the main explanation for this is that there was an extremely strong el niño in 97-98. We’ve just come out of a weaker one, which is partly why 2007 is reckoned to have a decent chance of beating 1998.

    “Many credible sources give 1998 (9 years ago) as the hottest year on record” – and others don’t, putting 2005 above it.

    It would be nice if each year was exactly 0.02 C hotter than the previous one, but things just don’t work out like that.


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