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G8 summit key to global efforts on climate change
Published on 5 Jul. 2009 11:45 PM IST
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Climate change high on the agenda, the Group of Eight (G8) leaders are set to meet in the quake-stricken Italian town of L’Aquila from Wednesday to Friday. The G8 meeting comes as a deadline draws nearer for world leaders to endorse a new global warming pact at a UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in December. At the latest UN climate change talks held in Bonn in early June, the 50-page draft for a new global warming treaty grew to more than 200 pages stuffed with rival proposals after its maiden hearing. Meanwhile, on June 27, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed the “American Clean Energy and Security Act,” a legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The bill came as a hard-won victory for President Barack Obama, who is keen on a leading U.S. role in tackling global warming. The L’Aquila summit is the last G8 summit before the December Copenhagen meeting. Under Obama’s initiative, a major economies forum for 17 countries, which account for some 80 percent of the global emissions, is scheduled for Thursday on the sidelines of the summit. If the leading powers could sew up differences on global warming at the summit, L’Aquila will be a landmark on the road to tackle climate change. Italy, which holds the current G8 presidency, wants the summit to agree that global greenhouse gas emissions should peak by 2020 and world temperature change should be limited to 2 Celsius degrees above pre-industrial levels. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a rise in temperatures of more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels would be dangerous for the delicate balance of Earth’s climatic system. The two targets have been accepted by the European Union, but not by G8’s non-EU members -- the United States, Russia, Canada and Japan. India position on climate change India is in favor of multilateral negotiations for stabilization of specific emission reduction targets It is not true that India is resisting the setting of a specific emission reduction target (ERT) on a global basis for 2050, even though there is enough scientific evidence to show that to keep global warming within 2 degree crease ( the maximum permissible to avoid possible catastrophic consequences of Climate Change), this is the minimum reduction required. This stand prevents global action on Climate Change. “India has already started feeling the effects of climate change which we have neglected for quiet long. It’s high time that we must stop looking at climate change purely as an international issue,” the minister said. “It is most fundamentally a domestic, local issue related to water security, land productivity, agricultural yields and energy consumption.” To drive home his point, Mr. Ramesh said, in Palampur in Himachal Pradesh an entire snow-capped mountain range has now become brown while the wheat yield in Haryana has stagnated for the last 10-15 years because the maximum temperature in February has increased. Coffee bean production cycle is also witnessing the impact of climate change. With global warming already affecting the world economy, Ramesh was of the view that soon India and the rest of the world would “have to redefine Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as green domestic product”. Massive investments will be required in afforestation, sustainable agriculture and water security, said Mr. Ramesh who is hoping that there would be fiscal incentives for implementing green technology in the forthcoming budget. Asserting that going green “means big business too”, he said the ministry would soon hold briefings for NGOs, senior officials in the corporate sector and state governments to discuss the climate change scenario. “Climate change is here,” Mr. Ramesh asserted. “India is being affected. We need to do something because it is in our interest. We have National Action Plan on Climate Change based on eight mission. “We also have launched 24 other critical initiatives to combat climate climate change relating to energy efficiency in power generation, renewable energy technology development programmes, improving disaster management response to extreme climate events, protection of coastal areas, and improving the health sector.” Nandan Nilekani further opined that these climate negotiations are easily the most complex collaborative effort the world has undertaken, and India, like all nations, is being asked to sign on to the deal being worked out at Copenhagen. India is likely to be among the most affected by coming climate shifts — in prediction maps, the subcontinent shows up as dark red, threatened by melting ice caps, shifting rainfall patterns and rising sea levels. The Indian government rightly points out that the burden of cutting carbon emissions should lie with the developed nations responsible for the accumulated levels of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere.

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