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Missed Opportunity for G8 Leaders on Climate Change

Nairobi, 9 July 2008 - As the G8 Summit wrapped up in Japan, Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said the world's richest countries had shown insufficient leadership on climate change.

"We are under pressure to act. We have no time left to waste," said Mr Steiner. " However I think the G8 leaders missed an opportunity to provide the kind of signal that would accelerate the international negotiation process," he added.

Mr Steiner noted that the G8 countries' agreement to reduce carbon emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2050 is a positive outcome of the summit.

"I think the G8 delivered what it could. But in terms of what the world needs, what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has asked for and what is necessary in view of the Copenhagen meeting in 2009 the results fall short," he said. "The South African Minister of the Environment called it empty slogans - where is the substance?"

"The G8 Summit has not delivered enough leadership. We have some 500 days until we meet in Copenhagen to reach a global agreement," the UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director said. "We have less than seven years to stabilize emissions globally. The absence of short- and medium-term targets and commitments by the leading industrialized nations is a shortfall of the summit."

"We are beyond the rhetoric of climate change. We must now put numbers on the table. We must also give developing nations the clear conviction that industrialized nations are taking their responsibilities seriously," he said.

Mr Steiner noted that a number of countries including Germany, Norway and the UK as well as South Africa and Indonesia are now committing to targets.

"But when we look at the implementation of emission reduction targets under the current Kyoto Protocol, a number of industrialized nations are not even delivering on these relatively small targets. So what incentive is there for developing nations to make major investments if developed nations are not willing to take these significant steps forward?"

"We will continue to be stuck until all industrialized nations commit to firm targets - ones to be met by 2020 not in 42 years time," he said.




Further Resources

G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit

UNEP Climate Change Website

UNEP Executive Director Podcast on the G8 Summit

Climate Neutral Network (CN Net)

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Kyoto Protocol


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