G8-Plus Group needed to tackle climate change
Press Release Institute for Public Policy Research
London, 24th January 2005 - As chair of the G8, the Prime Minister should seek agreement to create a G8-Plus Climate Group to engage the US and major developing countries in action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a high-level taskforce established by the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr), the Centre for American Progress and the Australia Institute.
In its report out tomorrow (Tuesday), the International Climate Change Taskforce concludes such a group would provide a way for G8 countries and other major economies - including India and China - to take action that would lead to large-scale reductions in emissions. The G8-Plus Climate Group would pursue partnerships to achieve immediate deployment of existing low-carbon energy technologies, including agreements to shift agricultural subsidies from food crops to biofuels and promote sales of highly efficient cars.
The report also argues that all G8 countries should set a lead by adopting national targets to generate at least 25 per cent of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025 and mandatory cap-and-trade schemes for emissions, like the EU scheme. In the US, this could happen through the Climate Stewardship Act, proposed by Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman, and could provide a path for US re-entry into a global climate change agreement after the Kyoto Protocol's first phase ends in 2012.
The Taskforce also calls on governments to agree to a long-term objective of preventing global temperature from rising by more than 2 C above pre-industrial levels. Other key recommendations include:
- The need for a step-change in financial and technical assistance for developing countries to adapt to climate change.
- The creation of a leadership coalition of countries to move ahead with reforms to boost investment in climate-friendly energy technologies worldwide.
Rt Hon Stephen Byers MP, co-chair of the Taskforce with US Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, said:
"Our planet is at risk. With climate change, there is an ecological time-bomb ticking away, and people are becoming increasingly concerned by the changes and extreme weather events they are already seeing. Urgent action is required if we are to win the battle against this problem. That can only happen with strong political leadership.
"I appreciate that tackling climate change is politically difficult. First, there is a mismatch between the potentially unpopular decisions that need to be taken now and the benefits that will come in the medium and long term. Secondly, no country acting on its own can resolve the issue. Strong international action is vital.
"The Taskforce with its diverse membership has been able to find common ground. Our recommendations are practical, realistic but also challenging. World leaders need to recognise that climate change is the single most important long term issue that the planet faces and to discharge their responsibilities to the people they represent by agreeing to concerted international action to tackle climate change."
Key recommendations of the Taskforce include:
All of the Taskforce's recommendations are designed to build on the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol to help ensure that climate change is addressed effectively over the long term.
- The G8 and other major economies, including from the developing world, form a G8+ Climate Group, to pursue technology agreements and related initiatives that will lead to large emissions reductions.
- The G8-Plus Climate Group agree to shift their agricultural subsidies from food crops to biofuels, especially those derived from cellulosic materials, while implementing appropriate safeguards to ensure sustainable farming methods are encouraged, culturally and ecologically sensitive land preserved, and biodiversity protected.
- G8 governments establish national renewable portfolio standards to generate at least 25% of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025, with higher targets needed for some G8 governments.
- G8 governments increase their spending on research, development, and demonstration of advanced technologies for energy-efficiency and low- and zero-carbon energy supply by two-fold or more by 2010, at the same time as adopting strategies for the large-scale deployment of existing low- and zero-carbon technologies.
- All industrialised countries introduce national mandatory cap-and-trade systems for carbon emissions, and construct them to allow for their future integration into a single global market.
- A global framework be adopted that builds on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol, and enables all countries to be part of concerted action on climate change at the global level in the post-2012 period, on the basis of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities.
- A long-term objective be established of preventing global average temperature from rising more than 2 C (3.6 F) above the pre-industrial level, to limit the extent and magnitude of climate-change impacts.
- Governments remove barriers to and increase investment in renewable energy and energy efficient technologies and practices by taking steps including the phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies and requiring Export Credit Agencies and Multilateral Development Banks to adopt minimum efficiency or carbon intensity standards for projects they support.
- Developed countries honour existing commitments to provide greater financial and technical assistance to help vulnerable countries adapt to climate change, including the commitments made at the seventh conference of the parties to the UNFCCC in 2001, and pursue the establishment of an international compensation fund to support disaster mitigation and preparedness.
- Governments committed to action on climate change raise public awareness of the problem and build public support for climate policies by pledging to provide substantial long-term investment in effective climate communication activities.
Jonathon Porritt Taskforce member and Chair of the Sustainable Development Commission said:
"As the news about climate change goes on getting worse, political inertia all around the world remains the biggest barrier to finalising an appropriate response. It's now critically important to inject some creative new thinking into today's climate change negotiations, and the Taskforce has an important contribution to make to that process."
Notes to editors:
The International Taskforce was established in March 2004 by the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr), the Centre for American Progress and the Australia Institute. The Taskforce is co-chaired by Labour MP Stephen Byers and Republican Senator Olympia Snowe. Its 14-strong membership - listed below - includes eminent people from politics, business and civil society from both developed and developing countries.
The report 'Meeting the climate challenge: recommendations of the International Climate Change Taskforce" will be launched on Tuesday 25 Jan 2005, in the UK by the Rt Hon Stephen Byers MP, Taskforce Co-Chair, Adair Turner: Vice-President of Merrill Lynch Europe and former Director General of the Confederation of British Industry and Jonathon Porritt: Chairman of the Sustainable Development Commission.
Taskforce co-chair Rt Hon Stephen Byers MP will be presenting evidence on the Taskforce recommendations to the House of Commons Environment Select Committee at 4.30pm on Wednesday 26 January.
The Prime Minister will be delivering a speech on climate change and development to the World Economic Forum in Davos on 27 January.
The International Science conference at the Hadley Centre will debate the long-term implications of climate change from 1-3 February.
Taskforce members are:
Rt. Hon. Stephen Byers MP: former Secretary of State for Trade & Industry and for Transport, Local Government & the Regions (UK). (Co-Chair)
Senator Olympia Snowe: Two-term Republican Senator from the State of Maine and Member of the Senate Committees on Finance, Intelligence, and on Commerce, Science and Transportation (USA). (Co-Chair)
Hon. Bob Carr MP (Labor): Premier of New South Wales (Australia).
Professor John Holdren, Professor of Environmental Policy and Director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University (USA).
Dr Martin Khor, Director of the Third World Network (Malaysia).
Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet: Member of the National Assembly, President of the the governing UMP' health & environment Committee, and former environment advisor to Prime Minister Raffarin and President Chirac (France).
Dr Claude Martin, Director General of WWF International (Switzerland).
Professor Tony McMichael: Director of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health (NCEPH) at the Australian National University (Australia).
Jonathon Porritt: Chairman of the Sustainable Development Commission and Co-Founder and Programme Director of Forum for the Future (UK).
Adair Turner: Vice-President of Merrill Lynch Europe and former Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (UK).
Professor Ni Weidou, Director of the Clean Energy Centre at Tsinghua University, Beijing (China).
Dr Ernst von Weizsäcker: member of the German Bundestag (for the governing Social Democratic Party). Chairman of the Bundestag's Environment Committee. Former President of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy (Germany).
Hon. Timothy E. Wirth: President of the UN Foundation, former Under-Secretary of State for Global Affairs under President Clinton, former Senator (Democrat). (USA).
Cathy Zoi: Group Executive Director of Bayard Capital, former Executive Director of the Sustainable Development Energy Authority of New South Wales (Australia).
Expert scientific adviser to the Taskforce:
Dr Rajendra Pachauri: Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Director General of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI, India).
Matt Jackson, ippr Media Officer, 020 7339 0007 / 07753 719 289 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Simon Retallack, ippr Research Fellow, 020 7470 6152 / 07739 136 775 / email@example.com
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