Thursday, 15 February 2007

GLOBE agreement in Washington over climate change

Global leaders have reached a new agreement at a GLOBE, which stands for Global Legislators Organization for a Balanced Environment (website here), forum in Washington, DC. The likes of Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman were centers of focus as they ambitiously aimed to pass legislation limiting the United States' large role in global climate change, which humans have been affirmed as a major cause of. The US holds the title as the biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses which contribute to global warming, though China, with its accelerating economy is soon to catch up. The meeting dealt especially with getting on target on a succession plan after the current Kyoto agreement on greenhouse gas emissions is expired on 2012; of course something more serious and active than Kyoto is needed, one including major roles of the United States and China.

The GLOBE International meeting lasted two days and included members of the Group of Eight (G8) major industrialized, developed nations — the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany (current president), France, Russia, Canada, and Japan — in addition to major developing countries such as China, India, South Africa, Mexico, and Brazil. McCain, a key potential moderate conservative Republican presidential candidate for 2008 and current GOP senator from Arizona, spoke with fervor at the forum. However, a great deal of American politicians not the least Republicans — and people — are not convinced of global warming, many of them, like the Bush administration, the same people who swear by the Bible Darwin's theory of evolution is absolutely wrong. Those same people should keep in mind global warming may hurt the poor the most, not that those narrow-minded enough to hold such extreme views might care (keep in mind I am not talking about all fundamentalist Christians or people of faith, but some take it to such an extreme it is dangerous to the rest of us). No matter, global warming could hurt everyone's pocketbooks too.

BBC News:

A meeting in Washington of global political leaders has reached a new agreement on tackling climate change.

Delegates agreed that developing countries will have to face targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions as well as rich countries.

The informal meeting also agreed that a global market should be formed to cap and trade carbon dioxide emissions.

The non-binding declaration is seen as vital in influencing a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol, correspondents say.

The forum's closing statement said man-made climate change was now "beyond doubt".

"Climate change is a global issue and there is an obligation on us all to take action, in line with our capabilities and historic responsibilities," said the statement from the Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment (Globe).
The two-day meeting brought together legislators from the Group of Eight industrialised countries plus Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa.

The BBC's environment analyst Roger Harrabin was at the meeting and says that although the declaration carries no formal weight it indicates a real change in mood.

The legislators agreed that developing countries had to face targets on greenhouse gas emissions as well as rich countries.

US senator Joe Lieberman forecast that the US Congress will enact a law on cutting emissions by the end of next year, possibly this year.

And presidential candidate John McCain, who is co-sponsoring climate legislation with Mr Lieberman, was emphatic on the need for new initiatives.

"I am convinced that we have reached the tipping point and that the Congress of the United States will act, with the agreement of the administration," he told the forum.
Meanwhile, the Canadian parliament moved to force the government to meet its Kyoto Protocol target for reducing emissions.
With United Nations climate negotiations in November failing to agree a timetable for mandating new cuts in emissions when the current Kyoto targets expire in 2012, the British-led Globe set up the Washington meeting in the hope of stimulating progress in a less formal setting.

The UN's panel on climate change said earlier this month that higher global temperatures caused by man-made pollution will melt polar ice, worsen floods and droughts and cause more devastating storms.
On a positive note, at least Lieberman, whom I have been particularly displeased with lately, is not kissing up to the White House on this one! McCain seems especially serious on this issue though he is not the 'maverick' he used to be. However, he has gotten on the Bush administration's case before on global warming.

For those interested, here is some interesting on this GLOBE meeting from their website.
Dialogue Aim

The Dialogue will draw senior legislators together from the G8, India, China, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa with international business leaders, civil society representatives and opinion leaders to discuss a post 2012 climate change agreement.

Specifically, the Dialogue aims to present a consensus statement from the Dialogue participants to the G8 Heads of State in Japan.

Dialogue Objectives

1. To provide a forum outside of formal international negotiating structures for legislators, senior business leaders and other key decision makers to discuss a 2012 Kyoto Climate change Agreement - importantly allowing the representatives from the non G8 countries of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa to be represented in the dialogue on climate change.
2. To create a greater understanding between participating legislators, business leaders and key civil society organisations about different country priorities and how any future political accommodation can be reached
3. To allow business leaders to inform legislators on appropriate application of technology required to deliver to markets in +5 countries.
4. To share knowledge and expertise to identify specific measures to address climate change that legislators can support in their respective parliaments.
5. To provide an informal mechanism to engage with a broader constituency of key legislators - with a particular focus on fostering greater contact & understanding with the G8 and + 5 countries.

While it is nice to hear politicians speak rationally about such serious issues not always taken seriously, this consensus is basically an affirmation of the IPCC's report on climate change, i.e. the fact humans are causing some of it. There can't only be symbolic progress; action needs to be taken by governments — developing or developed — on their role in climate change. Human-caused climate change probably won't make too much a difference in itself in increasing your air conditioning bill in the summer right now, but it will almost certainly be a different situation for your grandchildren and their children. It is not the short term, it's the long term (see this post).

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