Pembina Reacts: G8 Leaders' Summit Declaration

July 8, 2009

Clare Demerse, Associate Director of the Pembina Institute's climate change program, made the following statement in response to the climate change sections of the G8 Leaders' Summit Declaration:

"Today's G8 declaration recognizes a science-based limit on global warming and the level of long-term developed country emission targets needed to get there. This declaration puts new and urgent pressure on Canada to strengthen its national emission targets.

‘G8 leaders recognized today that global warming should not exceed the science-based limit of 2°C. For the first time, the declaration also includes the goal that developed countries will reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases in aggregate by 80 per cent or more by 2050 compared to 1990 or more recent years.'

Relative to 1990, Canada's current 2050 target is equivalent to a reduction of just 51-64 per cent. Even using a 2006 baseline, as the government has opted to do, Canada's 60-70 per cent reduction target falls short of the range that the G8 has adopted.

Canada needs to live up to today's G8 declaration by adopting stronger climate targets as soon as possible, well before the UN negotiations in Copenhagen this December. This will be a crucial step to restore Canada's credibility at the UN climate talks and as the host of the 2010 G8 summit.

Overall, the G8 declaration is a mixed effort on climate change. It misses critical opportunities to make progress on mid-term targets for 2020 and financial support for climate action in developing countries. These gaps mean it is likely too weak to move the Copenhagen talks forward significantly, as developing countries hoped the G8 would do. 

Today's declaration also states that green stimulus packages are an essential part of a sustainable economic recovery. President Obama's stimulus package outspends Canada's by a factor of 14:1, per capita, on renewable energy technologies like wind and solar."

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The Pembina Institute is a non-partisan sustainable energy think tank.

In polling conducted last November, 78 per cent of Canadians supported the statement that "Canada's global warming targets should be based on what leading scientists say is needed to avoid serious harm to people and the environment, even if meeting these targets entails some cost to the economy."
For more information contact:

Clare Demerse, Pembina Institute
Associate Director, Climate Change Program
613-762-7449 (cell)
011-39-441-763-0373 (local number in Italy)


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