G8 emission cut promises: Can you wait till 2050?

It’s been described as an historic agreement by the British PM Gordon Brown. The world’s richest industrial nationshave agreed to cut their carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 and to try to limit global warming to just 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels. But is 2050 too little too late? If we’re feeling the impact now why plans being made for the next 41 years?

ozziepaul reacted to the story saying:
“2050 is far too far away. If we follow the science rather than the politics we need an 80% now so a time-frame of 2020. It is do-able. All the technology exists. What is lacking is the political will and the determination to put the long term health and survival of the planet before the short term profits of the multinationals.”

And rhinocircus called it ‘A junketing of pledges’:
“I shall not see 2050,nor will billions who watch this charade repeat itself over the years, but my guess is that plague pandemics will be the tools of redress, rather than the conscientious disciplines of “civilised” governments.” Do you think G8 leaders are out of touch? Or have they got it right in long-term planning?

Speaking of planning, another argument is that the plan is, there’s is no plan. Details have been sketchy about exactly how they are aiming to achieve pre-industrial emission cuts. This blogger things it’s ‘A whole lotta bark and no bite.’ And developing nations are still not buying into it.

We’ve discussed climate change on the program several times. Some got more reaction than others but as Mark, the program’s editor, puts it, it always lacks the heat for an issue that is highly urgent as far as the future of our children is concerned. Is it our problem then are we not taking this too seriously and just blaming politicians?

If I’m really honest with myself I would say I’m not taking this as seriously as I should. Sure I recycle and tell myself I do my bit, but I still fly, and own a car and don’t see myself living totally green anytime soon.

48 Responses to “G8 emission cut promises: Can you wait till 2050?”

  1. 1 Ramesh, India
    July 9, 2009 at 10:06

    2050 is ok to me if they can achieve their target of 2C. Would they be accountable if they don’t keep up to the promise?

  2. 2 Ramesh, India
    July 9, 2009 at 10:22

    Developing countries too should their bit. Countries like India are too much focussed on development, shamelessly claiming their population as big human resource and not doing enough to curb the population growth. If they don’t curb population drastically, the development they achieve would not help the environment in any way. Yesyerday only we had a discussion about whether everyone has the right to have children. People in developing countries need not be denied of that privilege. No need to stop breeding. Just postpone it. It will do miracles as far as containment of population growth is concerned.

  3. 3 Deryck/Trinidad
    July 9, 2009 at 10:32

    We can’t wait that long but the true leaders(business) of the the world cannot afford to lose billions in the interim so they will pressure the poltical leaders to act on their behalf.

    As a species who is sentient and possess the ability to care we show a great lack of care for our immediate offspring and our future generations who will curse us for our ignorance and foolhardy decisions all in the name of the almighty DOLLAR.

    There is some dialogue from The Matrix movie that aptly describes humans. It goes roughly like this agent Smith told Morpheus that humans are like viruses that use up all the resources and destroy the place they live before moving on to the next place to do the same.


    • 4 Ramesh, India
      July 9, 2009 at 11:07

      Deryck, You are referring movies. I try Tennis language. There is nothing we can do about forced errors. But there is a scope to make unforced errors to minimum! needless to say, we(humans) are commiting too many unforced errors!!

    • 5 Nigel
      July 9, 2009 at 12:56

      I agree with Deryck…..if we don’t do it it will be done for us….same with global population. Setting dates as targets without the unmittigated will to have it done will accomplish little, and money will beat political will and limit how far and how fast we can move towards any global warming target.

  4. 6 Deryck/Trinidad
    July 9, 2009 at 10:49

    @ Ramesh, India

    Ramesh that’s one of the problems with 2050-accountability. The G8 is only accountable to themselves and you know how that ends up.

    Another major issue that you spoke about and that was discussed yesterday is should everyone be allowed to have a child. Many countries the world over except for India and Iran that I know about have an ageing population that receives a pension which is provided for by the present younger working population. Even though we have 6billion plus people we produce less children per family than fifty years ago on average. The problem we(leaders, business) face now and it will even be worse in the future is that we need more workers(drones) to run this machine notwithstanding the gobal finacial crisis.

    • 7 Ramesh, India
      July 9, 2009 at 11:34

      Ref: The problem we(leaders, business) face now and it will even be worse in the future is that we need more workers(drones) to run this machine notwithstanding the gobal finacial crisis.

      You may be right in the business perspective. I was viewing it more from environment angle. Also, on another talkshow on Radio 5, I heard that UK can not sustain the current living standards if the poulation grows well beyond 60 million. In that sense, what population level we indians should come down to achieve UK living standards, I wonder. The region I am living in India is almost of the same size as UK. The population is about 85 million.

  5. 8 Yang Gao
    July 9, 2009 at 10:56

    It is funny how the leading economies are not leading the world into a better future. “One monk will shoulder two buckets of water, two monks will share the load, but add a third and no one will want to fetch water.”

    • 9 leti in palma
      July 9, 2009 at 17:02

      a third monk or a third bucket?

      No, 2050 will probably be too late but since no-one old is going to get there, and no one young gives a toss…whats to do?
      The planet will probably shrug us off eventually anyway and then it can all begin again.

  6. 10 Vishaka
    July 9, 2009 at 11:19

    2050 is very late..its just another procastination plan! We need to be aiming for more like 2015 and the 2C limit is ridiculous. I think the politicians are thinking this through, I dont understand why climate change isnt an important agenda to the world’s big power. It should be as high up as other developing plans. Whats the point of trying to build houses and level up education when we wont have a proper ecology to support all of us.

    It is very important that we discuss this issue and be more serious about it and i mean properly not what has been done in the past few years, and I think it could be tied up with other issues in developing countries. Basically if while helping the developing country we teach them about greener and cleaner world, we would kill two birds with a stone.

    I think countries in India and China have the perception that since its their time to shine they cant curb their development by they lagging behind in technology when US,UK and other Western countries got that advantage years ago when they didnt care about green issues. I think its time India and China use their intellectual population to come up with innovative and environmentally helpful plans so that their development is twofold.

    On the other hand, not only politicians are to blame. We all are to blame! Unless we are an extreme greeney, we will fly, use the car and watch tv. The best we think we can do is recycle. The world is not going to stop flying planes because we cant stop driving.., because it is too ingrained in us all. What we need is some good innovation, exchnage of ideas,greener, cleaner better ways do things. We need a smarter way to live life and we as people and can do it together, we shouldnt expect others to do it for us.

  7. 11 Ann
    July 9, 2009 at 11:24

    @Is it our problem then are we not taking this too seriously and just blaming politicians?

    I think individuals do feel helpless and impotent in the face of such potentially catastrophic climate change and I believe that feeds into our behaviour. That is why it seems all the more essential that there is a collective political endeavour to do a great deal more than they are now. I suspect 2050 will be too late.

    Nature will sort this out and it’s not going to be pretty. Sadly, the poor, who are the least implicated in causing this will be hit the hardest.

  8. 12 Ann
    July 9, 2009 at 11:51

    Further to my last post – as Deryck so rightly says, yesterday’s topic on the right to have a child is very much related to the issue of over-population.

    While I am very much against the idea of targeting specific groups of people in our quest to bring the population down, there is no denying that there needs to be a collective attempt to do so.

    So rather than the sinister idea of abusing the human rights of the less priviledged, disabled, mentally/physically ill and the poor in developing countries, I think a well thought out collective effort needs to happen.

  9. 13 Deryck/Trinidad
    July 9, 2009 at 11:58

    @ Ramesh, India

    Personally I think for things to improve environmentally we need to return to a trading and bartering system of goods and services that we really need. But this will imply that greed be mitigated or removed and I don’t know how that can be done.

  10. 14 Crispo
    July 9, 2009 at 12:14

    2050? Well, who remembers the Tokyo protocal? Was it easy to get the US to ratify it? Hell, no. Like Ramesh and others have noted, the G8 are only accountable to themselves. It pretty much ends some where in a vault we do not know.

    Ok, 2050 wouldn’t have been a problem as long we could guarantee that it will be followed. How about other developing nations, who, by 2050 would be super polluters? The chances that this summit’s resolutions will come to pass, well….let’s hope for the best.

    We may yet have to sum this lot of wealthy nations as good at coming up with ‘enticing’ yet insignificant resolutions.

  11. 15 Ramesh, India
    July 9, 2009 at 12:21

    Now I try to touch a different argument. there are arguments that changes in environment are cyclical and green house gases having nothing to do with it. In my region we didn’t have proper rain for almost 5 years. Everybody started talking about environmental reasons. Then for the next 5 years, we had really good rains. How could we have good rains when we didn’t improve environment then? Do we really know enough about the environment?

    July 9, 2009 at 12:53

    By 2050 it is a cinch that I wont be there. Combined with the poor quality of life that is already a fact, may be a big number of those born last year wont be there either.

    On the other hand, we need to be clear what we mean by green. On one hand is the gigantic destruction of natural resources without replacement to furnish our commercial greed. To the auto industry, it is all about producing expensive models of cars that many cannot afford by simply labeling them green. There are many issues involved like the ones about population but which ones are at the forefront.

    Here in the so called the third world is the continous destraction of forests and water catchments while all of us turns our attention elsewhere.

    What is a fact is that disaster is already with us. Life expectancy is grown downwards due to the mountainous stress to the individual and environment. It is the high time we should come with simple language that everyone understands. Most of these forums are venues for the prestigious of our species and yet all of us are messing. For decades now, these shows about climate have been nothing but continuous rehersing as if the danger is not for us already.

  13. 17 patti in cape coral
    July 9, 2009 at 13:00

    I think the average person tries to cooperate with the recommendations set out by scientists, not to waste water, recycling, etc., but big businesses seem to have so many loopholes when it comes to environmental issues. Also, I would think that living a “green” life would be more economical, since the major principals of this are to not be wasteful, and conserve more resources, but in practice this doesn’t seem to be true. Green products are usually more expensive. I have to keep my dumb car and make it last as long as possible, because in the present economy, I couldn’t get a loan or afford payments on a smart car or hybrid. I appreciate what the G8 is trying to do, but it doesn’t seem to affect the real world.

    Also, I agree that yesterday’s topic ties in. I would happily opt for sterilization if it were offered to me, as I’m still of child-bearing age. My insurance won’t cover it, and I can’t afford it, however.

  14. 18 patti in cape coral
    July 9, 2009 at 13:28

    @ Deryck – I think here in the US I remember Clinton proposing that we legalize the people working here illegally so they would be paying into the system, and that would solve the problem of social security running out for the aging population. On the surface, it seemed like a good solution, although I haven’t looked at it from all angles, and this probably wouldn’t work in all places.

  15. 19 Ujjwal
    July 9, 2009 at 13:33

    The recent G8 meeting has called for the developing countries especially China and India to do more for tackling the Climate change issue? More than half the world population living in poverty live in the developing region.
    How much can the west demand of the poor nations to take care of the world climate?

  16. 20 Patrick
    July 9, 2009 at 14:20

    Even a complete halt in CO2 emissions would be far too late at this point. The paltry goals being talked about now are a joke. This should have been dealt with in a serious way 30 or 40 years ago. Greenhouse gases and pollution have set off chain reactions here on the earth’s surface and in the atmosphere which are already underway — they cannot be stopped or slowed.Efforts now should be made on trying to adapt to the impacts this will have on human society: where we live, what we grow, how we deal with disease.

  17. 21 Grima
    July 9, 2009 at 14:30

    The scientific hoax of all time:

    1. A plant food called CO2 is a pollutant.
    2. CO2 is a knob of global temperature.
    3. 0.33 deg C anomaly last year above the 30 year mean is global warming.

  18. 22 patti in cape coral
    July 9, 2009 at 14:36

    @ Patrick- or anyone – Where do you get your information on climate change, enviromental science, etc., because it’s very confusing to me when scientists with opposing views all seem to have facts to support their opinions. What would be the best resource of information?

    • 23 Ramesh, India
      July 9, 2009 at 15:18

      I am confused too. When we emit something in the sky, how the earth gets hot, for example!!

  19. 24 maria
    July 9, 2009 at 14:39

    I try to cut my emissions in my own back yard: garden organically; when neighbors want to cut trees, I agree to hire an arborist for a consult and to do the work while saving the tree if possible; drive the car to many errands on one trip; use least amt of electricity as possible; walk when possible

  20. 25 Tom K in Mpls
    July 9, 2009 at 15:55

    Most posts have been been based on a very bad assumption pointed out by patti, We have no idea what nature would be doing without our emissions. Over the last several billion years the earth has been cooling and will continue to do so. To our perceptions this will cause massive changes and extinctions, just as it always has. There have been countless twitches in temperature, both up and down, most caused by our planets geology.

    I find the arrogance of the G8 to be hilarious! They seem to think they know exactly what the effects of our technologies are. By the way they word this, they seem to think they can counter what may well be mostly a part of natural changes. Regardless of what they do changes will occur. Species will die, new ones will evolve, rivers will move, shorelines will shift. All of this is normal.

    Now I do agree that for several reasons it is in our best interest to keep our effects to a minimum. Legislation promoting more efficient experimental technologies is needed. Capitalistic pressure will make current technologies better. But please, quit trying to pass off ignorance as a scientific goal.

    • 26 Ramesh, India
      July 9, 2009 at 17:07

      People are calling it global warming and you say the earth will continue to cool itself. Can you eleborate please?

      • 27 Tom K in Mpls
        July 9, 2009 at 17:55

        Once upon a time the earth was a ball of molten rock and metals. Now it has cooled to the point of having a very thin skin. On this constantly moving and changing skin is a temporary condition we call life. Life is feed by these changes. The earth will continue to cool and the skin will get thicker and more stable. This will proceed to the point of it being unable to support much if any life as we can see on Mars. Then one day in the extreme future the sun will expand to the point that the earth will be vaporized.

        We have no data source, computer or modeling program for a computer that is capable of dealing with the needed detail of the dynamics involved. It is impossible to judge to what degree our pollution is influencing the current minor rise in surface temperature.

  21. 28 John in Salem
    July 9, 2009 at 17:04

    We have melting permafrost, vanishing glaciers all over the world and rising sea levels, all due, we are told, to a slightly more than 1 degree F increase in global temperatures over the last 100 years.
    And they now want to limit that to 3.6 F by 2050? We are SO screwed…

    As to the argument that this is all just part of a natural cycle –
    True, there have been variations in global climate trends over centuries and millenia and sudden peaks and drops have occured many times, but…
    None of these have happened before with 6.6 billion people on the planet.

    • 29 RightPaddock
      July 10, 2009 at 00:50

      @John in Salem – nature doesn’t regard our genus in any greater regard than any one of the 500+ genera of dinosaurs that were wiped out 65 million years ago, whether there’s as many as 6.6 billion of us or only 66.

      Homo Sapiens will exterminate itself by destroying the environment on which it depends, its already done it on Easter Island, the Aral Sea ….

  22. 30 T
    July 9, 2009 at 18:11

    Despite Obama being President, the rest of the world still resents the States for their we-are-superior attitude. It all comes down to money, power and self-preservation.

  23. 31 Bert
    July 9, 2009 at 18:24

    I couldn’t believe my ears when this nonsense came out of the G8, yesterday, on BBC News.

    Let’s leave aside the simple fact that the human contribution to overall CO2 exchange in the ecosystem is minuscule. And that therefore, even if every human on the planet were obliterated, nothing much would change with respect to CO2 levels overall. Let’s leave that aside for now.

    Which one of the G8 geniuses dreamed up the idea that we even know of a correlation between CO2 levels and the average temperature? Where has this ever been published? There is not such equation, and therefore any “agreement” that by cutting CO2 by x percent will cause a temperature rise of no more y degrees is pure fantasy.

    We have next to no control over temperature variations over the centuries and the millenia. They have always occurred and will continue to do so. It’s preposterous to put on this big pretense, that we will henceforth control the climate.

    Why don’t honest scientists finally speak up, already?

    • 32 patti in cape coral
      July 9, 2009 at 19:50

      Hi Bert, could you tell me where you get your information? I would love to read up more on this.

    • 33 Tom K in Mpls
      July 10, 2009 at 01:59

      Bert, they are trying to come up with valid, well documented answers. It is obvious to many that anything else is speculation. Example: when margarine was invented, they claimed it was better for you than butter. The dairy industry had two choices, dispute it while testing or be quiet while testing. They decided it was better to keep quiet. Now it is known that no hard fat is good for you and if you want to split hairs, butter is less bad. *Scientists* like to be quiet until they know, the others just want attention.

  24. 34 Crypto U.S.
    July 9, 2009 at 18:34

    who cares if were meant to perish ! THE END OF THE WORLD IS COMING GET READY!

  25. 35 Dennis Junior
    July 9, 2009 at 19:29

    i think that year 2050, is not acceptable time to cut emissions…..
    ~Dennis Junior~

  26. 36 Ramesh, India
    July 9, 2009 at 19:44

    Come on mates, we have set 2050 deadline just to avoid these types of debates and make you believe that we are working on it – G8

  27. 37 Jason Davis
    July 9, 2009 at 20:42

    It’s too bad this system has preffered profit rather than humanity, fairness, honesty and decency. In particular the class system, who’s flaws are all based on the fact that money exists. As long as one country want’s more, or government, even a company, or even us as individuals want more more more, there will be people with absolutely nothing. It is WRONG.

    Such a shame that all governments think the majority are just collateral damage in their determination to spread what should be democracy, but is in-fact capitalist dictatorship, covered with a crust of choice once every 4 years at who is in power. For some, though, it doesn’t mask the wrongness of it all.

    A choice once every 4 years is WRONG. We have the technology to interact with decisions on a daily basis. Those who want to. There is absolutely no need for this inflated government everywhere. They all just get fatter while we work for them, and even suffer under their choices and decisions 4 years solid. And what is it all about? Money. Brilliant!

    My marriage suffered from money greed, and she even tried to keep me with money after we were divorced, but she failed on all counts. Some people “don’t” have a price. And apart from that, she wasn’t that good looking. 😀

  28. 38 Bert
    July 9, 2009 at 21:47

    Ramesh, there should be a limit to the extent of silliness shoveled out to the unsuspecting public, or the whole conservation effort could backfire.

    Limiting CO2 emissions, in general, is a good thing. It reduces real pollution and it conserves non-renewable but otherwise very convenient sources of energy. Limiting CO2 is the same thing as putting energy efficiency mandates on automobiles and appliances. Even without the climate change drama tacked on, these are good goals.

    But going way beyond the pale with fictional accounts on how climate will then be affected is uncalled for, in my opinion. Have they no shame?

    • 39 Ramesh, India
      July 10, 2009 at 14:27

      I think we should make it simple by concentrating on things like air pollution, excessive garbage, plastics, chemicals etc that are contaminating clean water resources also and causing a lot of health hazzards. I prefer the debates to focus more on these garb we are creating and keeping on the earth rather than on something that is pumped away from the earth. This diversion is allowing India and China to get away with the argument that they need to tackle povery problem. latest reports say that Russia too has backtracked within hours after the G8 tall promise. And I doubt, WHYS got that tip early and put the debate on the backburner to save Gordon Obama from blushing!!

  29. 40 Deryck/Trinidad
    July 9, 2009 at 22:32

    CO2 is absorbed by plants for them to make food as well as capture some in the tree trunk. Therefore trees are what you should use for carbon capture. The relentless deforestation worldwide with the aim of agricuture and housing is depleting the major source of our oxygen. It DOESN’T take a scientist to tell you something is terribly wrong. We cannot continue to exist in a viable manner with so much destruction to the natural habitat.

  30. 41 RightPaddock
    July 10, 2009 at 00:48

    I can’t recall anything that the G6,G7,G8 has ever said or done that has made the slightest difference in my lifetime, so why would I take any notice of them now.

    The G8 should be put out of its misery in favour of the G20. It wont achieve anything either. At a superficial level, at least, the G20’s more democratic so we should feel better about it.

    These events are often called Summits, yet no one climbs any mountains, real or metaphorical. Not even stairs do they climb, except for a photo-op. We should call them Plains – plain bloody boring.

  31. 42 Tan Boon Tee
    July 10, 2009 at 03:26

    I won’t be around by then, so would most G8 leaders.

    It is a pity that politicians are not scientists. Why would scientists not want to become politicians?

    We hear big promises from the G8 leaders. Unfortunately the long term (2050) goal may not be tangible at all. To reduce green house gases by 80% by 2050, good, but 80% of what? Where is the benchmark?

    We hope to see a short term (2025) concrete measure, yet there is hardly any. Many of us who are in our late middle age may not even live to welcome 2025, let alone 2050.

  32. 43 CL in PA
    July 10, 2009 at 15:57

    I don’t consider myself an expert on the matter, but CO2 doesn’t insulate very well in comparison with other atmospheric compounds. Granted there is a lot of it and I agree we should cut back those emissions; more for health and cleanliness than warming.

    H2O happens to insulate very well and the more Earth we pave the more precipitation goes back into the atmosphere. Not to mention most processes which release CO2 also create an abundance of H2O in the form of gas.

    There are also worries about a lack of groundwater which paving also affects. Then one could mention the lack of shade, created by foliage, keeping the ground temperature down to reduce the amount of evaporation as precipitation makes contact.

    Rain is one of nature’s ways of cooling the Earth. Plants in turn can clean the atmosphere. All I’m saying here is that perhaps the atmosphere can fix itself if only we could fix what it covers.

  33. 44 Dennis Junior
    July 10, 2009 at 17:06

    no…we can’t wait until 2050…

    ~Dennis Junior~

  34. 45 Tom D Ford
    July 10, 2009 at 23:58

    Like someone said, we already have a very effective method of sequestering carbon, the problem is that we keep drilling and pumping and digging it up and burning it!

  35. July 11, 2009 at 14:36

    I am glad that I read the messages on this subject. I was begining to think that I was the only person in the world who did not believe in man made global warming. You have saved my sanity thanks.

  36. 47 Dinka Aliap Chawul-Kampala,Uganda
    July 11, 2009 at 16:27

    I wants world free of global warming now.2050 is not appropriate to me.

  37. July 13, 2009 at 14:56

    Modern Civilisation being a fraud on reality will continue to pursue policies based on untruth. This will lead to a righting of conditions by changes involving the death of 4 billion human beings at least prematurely. This is because the vested interests are so foolish. The remaining two billion will then perforce live by the truth.

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