Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Climate change deal from the G8 summit?

[UPDATED POST]. The G8 has agreed on limiting warming to 2 deg C... but not on the emissions target that would limit warming to 2 deg C. Canada continues to fudge with the baseline year for calculating emissions change, an important issue given the rise in emissions since 1990

Coverage and criticism of the failure to reach a consensus on climate policy at international meetings like the G8 summits tend to focus, for good reason, on emissions reductions. The lede from the NY Times:

As President Obama arrived for three days of meetings with other international leaders, negotiators dropped a proposal that would have committed the world to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by midcentury and industrialized countries to slashing their emissions by 80 percent.

On top of emissions reductions, any post-Kyoto agreement, or any side agreement between individual nations like the US and China, will include funding for climate change adaptation in the developing world. As difficult as it will be to reach a global agreement on emissions reductions, it may actually be even more difficult to reach an agreement on funding for adaptation.

The emissions targets are promises in the politically-distant future; Canadians, for one, have seen how a promise of emission reductions can go for naught if there are no serious penalties tied to those targets. The funding for climate change adaptation in the developing world. on the other hand, is real money that comes out of existing budgets and shorter-term forecasts. And a system for adaptation funding is ripe for abuse, as happens with international aid.

First and foremost, we need to work on the emissions reductions policy. But let's not assume that agreeing on how and how much to funding adaptation will be easy.

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