Tepid applause? Tony Blair didn't get all he wanted on climate change from G8 leaders.

G8 Plan Light on Climate Change Commitments

Staff Writer

Eli is a contributing correspondent for Science magazine.

The U.K. government, champion of a global campaign to control greenhouse gases, let it be known in advance that the G8 meeting it hosted in Scotland wasn't likely to produce any miracles. It didn't.

The G8 plan for mitigating global warming that came out on 8 July was heavy with proposals but light on commitments. The heads of the eight leading industrial nations promised to boost energy-efficient technology, adopt low CO2-emitting energy sources (including possibly even nuclear power and hydrogen fuels), and back research collaborations such as a huge monitoring network called the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (Science, 25 February, p. 1182). They pledged to task the International Energy Agency and the World Bank with producing efficiency standards and boosting technology investment respectively. But they endorsed no new targets for reducing greenhouse gases.

The plan's vagueness angered environmental groups that want action. "This is a very disappointing finale," said Tony Juniper, leader of Friends of the Earth International in London. "The text conveys no sense of the scale or urgency of the challenge." Others, like the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington D.C., found a silver lining in the Bush Administration's failure to "block world action" on limits "despite intense lobbying."

U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair acknowledged after the meeting that "we were never going to be able ... to resolve the disagreement" over the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 treaty that commits the 140-plus participants--the United States refused to sign on--to meet hard greenhouse gas reduction goals by 2012. However, the G8 members should be "proud" of their solidarity, Blair insisted, because all attendees endorse the view "that climate change is a problem, that human activity is contributing to it, and that we have to tackle it." Members of the G8 will refine plans for protecting the climate on 1 November in Montreal.

With reporting by Eli Kintisch

Related site
The G8 report

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