Leaders of the world’s most polluting nations at the Italy G8 summit agreed a common goal on curbing global warming—but not on what measures to take to get there. Summit leaders agreed in principle that global temperature rise should be no more than 2 degrees C. by 2050. But there were no interim targets and or timetables. This is true both of July 8 G8 declaration and the following day’s resolution by the Major Economies Forum (MEF), the 17 countries that emit 80% of the world’s greenhouse gases. Details on how to reach the 2-degree cap are expected to be hashed out at the December UN climate summit in Copenhagen, where a new treaty is expected to replace the Kyoto Protocol. (European Voice, July 10)
In response to the G8/MEF agreement, the climatologists who manage the blog RealClimate.org reiterated a conclusion that they first put forward in a series of commentaries under the heading “Put the breaks on hard, in the journal Nature in April (vol. 458, no. 7242):
We feel compelled to note that even a “moderate” warming of 2°C stands a strong chance of provoking drought and storm responses that could challenge civilized society, leading potentially to the conflict and suffering that go with failed states and mass migrations. Global warming of 2°C would leave the Earth warmer than it has been in millions of years, a disruption of climate conditions that have been stable for longer than the history of human agriculture. Given the drought that already afflicts Australia, the crumbling of the sea ice in the Arctic, and the increasing storm damage after only 0.8°C of warming so far, calling 2°C a danger limit seems to us pretty cavalier.