Those hoping the G8 would achieve a breakthrough in Climate negotiations, would only need to look at the history of the G8 to know it is often more like an extended press conference for the G8 countries to touch base and put out some symbolic gestures on the issue of the day, meanwhile the real negotiations are happening behind the scenes round the clock all year long.
But in terms of gestures what was achieved?
That the G8 countries aim to keep global emissions low enough to avoid a 2C rise in temperature
That it should aim to cut 80% of emissions by 2050, and the world aim for 50% cuts.
Neither stands out as groundbreaking, and worse for environmentalists was that several measures discussed appeared to fall by the way side: Mexico proposed a “green fund” for developing countries, something floated by Brown prior the G8 meeting and worse still developing countries are of the opinion that only a 40% cut by 2020 by developed countries could get them to make serious cuts.
Nevertheless, The G8 has not been a failure and in fact is another albeit small stepping stone for an event which garners far too much publicity for what actually goes on. While the developed countries proposed cuts against those demanded by developing countries may make negotiations appear at an impasse, in reality, a solution is probably not so far off.
Three factors, discussed could make a breakthrough:
The first is the role of a “Green fund”, developing countries protest that the G8 make deeper cuts because they are responsible historically for emissions but more importantly because their people are already more prosperous. If a significant ‘green fund’ was made available, it could have the dual role of aiding development and doing so sustainably. This could also take the form of technology transfer, in combination with funding, which remains a critical road block to developing countries supporting environmental energy options.
The second is the Waxman-Markey bill currently being debated in the US senate, this needs to pass with a credible amount of its original intention left intact, if it does, that paves the way for further North American legislation ( with Canada and possibly Mexico in some role), perhaps more importantly it gives the US genuine clout to lead.
The third and most important factor lies with US negotiations with China, Russia and Brazil. Already the US has persuaded China to come to the table, as well as reticent Russia. Although importance should also be attached to the role of Brazil, India and Indonesia, is is these two countries, the next most powerful of non-western countries that could make or break global negotiations. I
The US has its work cut out; continued behind the scenes work will be the modus operandi in the run up to Copenhagen. However all policy relies on momentum, a global deal even a disappointing one, changes the domestic policy debates for the better, this could create a positive interchanging momentum that increasingly reaches for greater efforts to cut emissions globally.