Our PM Rudd is currently on a tour of Europe – not on a scandal creating tax payer holiday mind you – he’s there to work. Yesterday he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin to discuss the global financial crisis and climate change. Wednesday he is at the G8 meeting in Italy (though Australia is not technically part of the Great Eight). Today, Rudd and Merkel will be among the leaders of 17 countries attending the Major Economies Forum (MEF) (to discuss climate change, trade and the global economic crisis. Whew. I feel tired just typing his schedule.

Prime Minister Rudd currently in Europe to talk climate change

Prime Minister Rudd currently in Europe to talk climate change

There is a lot of expectation pinned on these meetings. The G8 and the MEF are the two major arenas outside of the UN process where we need to see some real ambition and solid commitment within the international climate change negotiations if we are to break the gridlock we’re currently stuck in. Reaching international agreement on cutting greenhouse gasses and generating finance to address climate change has historically proved almost impossible. With climate change high on the agenda at the G8 and MEF is this a mission possible?

It’s a question of degrees – two degrees to be precise

The G8 is weighing a pledge to limit global warming below 2 degrees centigrade, the level at which scientists say a deadly climate chain reaction becomes dangerously likely. The European Union is pushing for the 2 degree commitment, and lately the US has signalled it may come on board. However, worryingly, Canada, Japan, and Russia are trying to veto the 2-degree limit.

We need to see all of the G8 nations commit to a 2 degree target (at the very least), but more importantly, this commitment must be backed up with mid-term emissions reduction goals consistent with avoiding warming beyond 2°C. For Australia, and many other wealthy countries, this means at least a 40% reduction on 1990 levels by 2020.

Not that I’ve been along to a MEF, but the word on the street is that the decisions are generally made very hurriedly at the last minute, followed by a press conference where announcements are made by smiling, hand shaking world leaders. Stay tuned for such announcements our time on Friday morning.

Still busy monitoring,