UK-based international development agency Christian Aid has said that the G8 agreement to halve carbon emissions by 2050 was a step in the right direction, but was not enough to halt global warming while allowing poor countries to develop in a sustainable manner.
"This is an encouraging, if inadequate, development as it is the first time that all the leading industrialised nations, including the United States, have accepted that targets are necessary," commented Christian Aid senior climate change policy analyst Nelson Muffuh.
"But the science says that global cuts of at least 80% by 2050 are necessary if temperature rises are to be kept below 2oC. Catastrophic changes are predicted if temperatures rise beyond that point.
"Poor people in vulnerable communities in developing countries are already bearing the brunt of climate change through extreme weather conditions causing flooding and drought. The G8 has to take the lead in ensuring the situation doesn’t dramatically worsen.
"The agreement reached in Japan is a start, but governments have to accept that greater cuts are needed. To have any real credibility, targets that are agreed must also be predicated on a base year of 1990. Ambitious mid term targets must be set, and there must be equitable burden sharing.’
Christian Aid says that countries that have grown rich through the industrial processes that have caused many of today’s problems must accept that they have an obligation to meet much of the cost of combating global warming.
An agreed ‘responsibility and capability’ index of countries should be drawn up, ensuring that those in a position to pay for emissions cuts do so both at home and in the developing world.
It says rich countries must help poorer countries develop by funding sustainable development initiatives and transferring technology in a measurable, verifiable and reportable way.
Governments in industrialised countries should also take urgent steps to regulate against new sources of emissions, such as coal-fired power plants.
Christian Aid welcomed the G8’s reaffirmation of commitments made at Gleneagles in 2005 to increase aid globally US$50bn by 2010 with US$25bn going to Africa, and to provide a universal access to treatment for HIV/Aids in the same period.
Author of a recent Christian Aid report on the food crisis, Oliver Pearce, said the investment of a further US$10bn in agriculture and food to increase production and help poor people survive the current crisis was welcome.
"But assistance given must not be linked to demands for trade liberalisation that have had a ruinous impact on the agricultural sectors of a number of poor countries,’ he said.
"Instead there must be a concerted international effort to support small-scale and subsistence farmers with investment in food production, infrastructure, provision of access to credit and support for domestic food markets," declared Nelson Muffuh.