July 12, 2008

The Hokkaido G8 Summit – More Word Games

This week's issue of the Economist magazine contains their verdict on the G8 summit in Japan – They came, they jawed, they failed to conquer.

On the positive side the Japanese hosts managed to get most of the world's greenhouse-gas emitters around a table together. The attendees included the G8, plus the so called G5 which consists of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa. Also present were Australia, Indonesia and South Korea.

In the view of the Economist the greatest challenges facing the world today are what they refer to as "The three Fs – food, fuel and the financial credit crunch. The response of the world leaders to these challenges? A new form of words!

Last year in Heiligendamm German Chancellor Angela Merkel:

Overcame the reluctance of George Bush and got the G8 to promise to “consider seriously” cutting greenhouse emissions by at least half by 2050

Since then the price of oil and food staples has doubled. Ms. Merkel and the Japanese hosts hail a new form of words as "the summit’s biggest victory":

This time the G8 vowed to “consider and adopt” such cuts. In effect, Mr Bush has at last committed America to a quantifiable target. With just 200-odd days of his presidency to run, this may be his final input to the climate-change debate; some would call it his only contribution.

Now the debate can at last move on to consider the baseline from which these cuts are supposed to occur:

The European Union wants them to begin from 1990, while Japan (which unilaterally says it will aim for a 60-80% cut in emissions) thinks it more realistic to start from 2005 or perhaps this year. America hardly has an opinion.

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