Commentary

A reading of the G8 Heiligendamm text

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A reading of the G8 Heiligendamm text

E3G’s Jennifer Morgan shares her guide to this year’s G8 text.

The interdependencies of energy and climate security are clearly identified in this year’s G8 statement through a rounded narrative that links the challenges as well as those of poverty and responsible growth. The words note that one needs to be discussed with the other in mind, or optimally by creating comprehensive strategies to address both.

The small step forward of the 2007 G8 Summit is based on process – a timetable for a UN-based comprehensive global negotiation on the post-2012 regime. By 2009 the negotiations of such an agreement should be completed.

The process to get to the 2009 outcome, however, is a bit murkier. A range of processes now exist to push, pull and potentially divert energies away from the needed new “grand bargain”. The aim for this would be that equitable contributions to solving the problem are agreed upon by the global community to move forward towards a more low carbon economy. Whether this can be achieved remains to be seen.

New G8 Processes

In this year’s G8 two new processes have been created.

1. G8+5 Sherpas and High level Representatives

This first process follows-up on the providential G8+5 sherpas and high level representatives meeting that took place in Berlin on May 4th. A second meeting of this group will take place in the second half of 2007.

Having high level representatives of each of the governments continue their involvement beyond the Summit is useful and assists in deepening the discussions further than what is possible during G8 preparations.

The outputs of the German-led G8+5 process are anything but clear, with a note that “a detailed contribution” should be delivered no later than the end of 2008 from the participating countries. The agenda, and the outcomes, are quite vague thus making it as of yet unclear what this process shall deliver.

This provides an opportunity for the German presidency to assess what discussions are needed in such a forum. For instance, in the combination of the Gleneagles Dialogue and the Sherpa process, countries could get into detail on the issues of technology cooperation; new financing initiatives to rapidly deploy technologies; and potential sectoral agreements with energy intensive industries as part of national targets in industrialised countries.

Countries could also discuss the infrastructure needed for an effective and transparent carbon market and how countries with most experience can assist those with less.

Each of these elements would be useful in supporting a UN-based process. The group can report into the Japanese G8 Summit in mid-2008 and then ensure that any information contributes to the UN process.

The Bush Administration, however, is organising its own meeting about its new initiative, with a potentially different grouping of countries (eg only one European representative) to discuss how countries can pledge voluntary action to curb climate change. This would aim to deliver different outcomes – a pledge and review system instead of further quantified and binding obligations under a UN-based post-2012 regime.

2. Heiligendamm Process on Efficiency, Innovation and Sharing Technology

The second 2007 G8+5 process is the new Heiligendamm Process which aims to set up a series of structured dialogues amongst the G8+5 on a set of topics including energy efficiency, innovation, development in Africa and freedom of investment including corporate social responsibility. The Dialogue will utilise the OECD as a platform and aims to result in concrete recommendations by the 2009 G8 in Italy.

Heiligendamm Substance?

On the substance the G8 communiqué does not come out with any clear agreements. Most importantly, perhaps, this document points to the need to at least halve global emissions by 2050. Halving global emissions based upon a 1990 baseline provides a 50-50 chance of staying below a 2 degrees C rise in global average temperature in comparison to pre-industrial levels.

The USA was left alone with Russia to “seriously consider” such a halving proposal. Although tremendous pressure was born to bear on the EU to negotiate away the danger threshold of 2 degrees C, it did not.

While Japan and Canada seemingly moved towards the EU position on this element, it is clear that all issues (timeframes, base years, level of effort) actually remain unresolved. In summary: No consensus.

+5 Engagement

The involvement and engagement of the five emerging economies went further than before and both the G8 and the +5 communiques include some very important principles that are consistent with the basic principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.”

The +5 document notes that each has to do more and that they are ready to discuss their “fair share”.

The G8 communiqué noted that the emerging economies will not have the same types of commitments as industrialised countries but will need to reduce the carbon intensity of their economic development. It then goes on to list a range of types of contributions that emerging economies could make moving forward including sectoral contributions, policies and measures and an enhanced Clean Development Mechanism.

The Chinese position paper noted their responsibility to both their people and the world to take action.

It is now clear that all have to do more, although through different mechanisms, the question now is by how much and how G8 countries assist in the rapid deployment of low carbon technologies in the emerging economies.

In the end, Heiligendamm will only be what the global community makes of it. If efforts are not made by the European Union to work proactively and concretely with the emerging economies, then it is likely that Heiligendamm will only be one more G8 with little to no concrete outputs.

If, however, the words move into greater trust and a true dialogue of shared dilemma and shared responsibility results, the pace of response will increase.

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