One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind?

One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind?

First of all I would like to start with an apology for the lateness of this blog on the G8. Since Bonn I have actually been in Kenya.

I’m working on my masters research (on climate change communication and advocacy) along with joining up with the amazing young people from the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change ,who are inspiring me every day. I wish I could tell you all about how truly amazing the time has been. But I realise that this is a blog about the UK positions on climate change, and so my ramblings on the effects of climate change here in Kenya will have to wait.

However last week saw the G8 come and go in Italy and during it we saw much talk around climate change. Now that is definitely something I am here to blog about.

You may have seen that the G8 committed to keeping global warming below 2 degrees. They also committed to 80% emissions reductions by 2050 for developed countries, leading to global emissions reductions of 50% (though some players including India and China weren’t supportive of this 50%…can nothing ever be straight forward!).

At first glance, wow this looks promising, a giant leap in the right direction!

Or is it?

Of course it is good to see numbers, targets and commitments heading towards the right magnitude, but dig a little deeper into what came out of the G8 and all is not exactly as rosy as it seems. This became very apparent when I logged on to my emails to see a thread on the international youth climate movement mailing list with 21 replies all discussing the pros and cons of this outcome. When even the youth climate movement can’t agree you know things have got very complicated!

So it’s hard for me to sit here and tell you what exactly came out of the G8, at the end of the day it’s a personal response.

But I can tell you that there is a general feeling within the climate world that though they came out with these commitments they are rather lacking in substance.

It’s good we are seeing long-term commitments, but with climate change affecting people here and now (and I can tell you, this is one of the biggest things I have come to appreciate here in Kenya) long term commitments aren’t enough.

We need to see statements that commit to action RIGHT NOW!

The G8 gave us no progress on short-term commitments, no 2020 goals, no commitment to dealing with climate change starting today!

I like this reaction from Oxfam ,

“The G8 might have agreed to avoid cooking the planet by more than two degrees, but they made no attempt to turn down the heat any time soon. “

So, in my opinion, a giant leap it was not, but a small step…yes I think so.

Not just because of the commitment to staying below 2 degrees, but also because of the media attention and the hype around it.

That climate change is so high up the agenda, that the G8 ministers are personally engaged in it and not leaving it up to the environment ministers, that it is now a high level priority in all these countries, I believe these are definitely steps in the right direction.

Steps we need if we are to see real, courageous and strong action in Copenhagen.

So in my opinion the G8 was one small step for 8 men (well actually 7 men and 1 woman) but we are still waiting for that giant leap for mankind!