G8 on totally wrong track, says report

by GreenWire.org.uk. Published Wed 08 Jul 2009 22:40
Report authors say the world should follow Japan's lead

To coincide with the start of the G8 summit in Italy this week, top research institutes from around the world have published a report urging governments to fundamentally change their approach to climate change policy.

How to Get Climate Policy Back on Course, co-authored by 12 leading academics from institutes in England, Germany, Finland, Canada, the US, Australia and Japan, argues that strategies should focus directly on energy efficiency and the decarbonisation of energy supply, not on emissions, which are simply an outcome.

Co-writer Professor Gwyn Prins from the London School of Economics (LSE), which published the report along with Political Science’s Mackinder Programme and the Institute for Science, Innovation & Society (InSIS) at the University of Oxford, said: “Worthwhile policy builds upon what we know works and upon what is feasible, rather than trying to deploy never-before implemented policies through complex institutions requiring a hitherto unprecedented and never-achieved degree of global political alignment.”

He added: “These are confusing times for anyone interested in global climate policy. Currently, huge institutional and diplomatic effort is being expended as the world moves quickly toward a major international meeting in Copenhagen in December. But the best case outcome being predicted is merely more of the symbolic exhortation that has characterised climate policy for almost two decades.”

The report points out that in the decade leading up to 2000, the carbon intensity of the global economy was 0.27 tonnes for every additional $1,000 of GDP. Between 2001 and 2006, this figure rose to 0.53.

“In the real world, indicators are moving stubbornly in the wrong direction,” Professor Prins stated. “The world has been recarbonising, not decarbonising. The evidence is that the Kyoto Protocol and its underlying approach have had and are having no meaningful effect whatsoever.”

The report authors argue that the recent Japanese ‘Mamizu’ climate change strategy is the first government policy to take the ‘real world’ course they advocate, in sharp contrast to the UK’s Climate Change Act and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

Professor Steve Rayner, Director of InSIS, said: “The world has centuries of experience in decarbonising its energy supply and Japan has led the world in policy-driven improvements in energy efficiency. These are the models to which we ought to be looking.”

How to Get Climate Policy Back on Course is the follow-up to the influential LSE/Oxford report of 2007, The Wrong Trousers: Radically Re-thinking Climate Policy. That study documented how the Kyoto Protocol method had failed and why it was doomed to do so.

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