I am outside of Mexico City with delegates from the world’s 17 biggest economies who are meeting this week ahead of the next G8 meeting to further negotiate international climate agreements. Issues on the table include funding for forest protection, mid-term and long-term emission reduction targets, and financing for adaption and mitigation. The outcomes from these talks remain in doubt and other questions fester, like to what will the U.S. commit to?

Greenpeace and our partners have our own climate treaty, which can serve as a model for these delegates as they decide the crucial questions about the future of our planet. Given the future potential economic costs of the emerging climate crisis, we can’t afford not to tackle climate change. We need to see the economic crisis as an opportunity to invest in our future through building sustainable green economies by massively increasing energy efficiency and investing in renewable sustainable energy sources like solar and wind power, thereby stimulating the economy, creating jobs, promoting sustainable growth and simultaneously addressing the climate crisis.  What we cannot afford is being locked into unsustainable dirty industries dependent on fossil fuel power. 

For an effective climate deal at December’s Copenhagen Climate Summit, the world’s wealthiest nations–the G8 countries, who are at the core of the MEF– need to take the lead both at MEF and when they meet in L’Aquila, Italy for the G8 Summit next month. The G8 countries emit more than 40% of global CO2 emissions, despite being home to only 13% of the world’s population. These countries are looking at the U.S. to show leadership, but thus far, the leadership from the U.S. has been absent.

This is really a question of trust. By committing to targets for emissions cuts and financing for developing countries for mitigation, forest protection and adaptation, G8 countries can build trust and confidence and lead the way on global climate action – both for the MEF as well as for the UN negotiations, which will culminate in Copenhagen in December. But if they don’t show leadership, the rest of the world will have little incentive to take any sort of action.

At the last MEF, Germany and France called for strong short-term commitments, along the lines of what the world’s leading scientists recommend to fight against climate change. But the U.S. balked, and the slow progress of the U.S. Congress on a climate deal and its refusal to support the policies that keep climate change as far under 2 degrees C as possible must be leaving the rest of the world questioning the U.S.’s commitment.

Last week, the White House released a report that found that climate change is already creating changes in the United States by threatening the Southwest with heat waves, the Atlantic with stronger storms and the Midwest with drought. Given confirmation from the highest levels of government, there is no excuse for inaction.

The time to lead is now. The G8 leaders at the MEF and the G8 summit need to take responsibility for their role in climate change and agree to:

  • Global temperatures must be kept as far below a 2°C Celsius increase as possible, compared to pre-industrial levels to avert catastrophic climate change;
  • Global emissions must peak by 2015 and be as close to zero as possible by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.
  • As a group, commit to at least 40% emission cuts by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.
  • Commit to establishing a funding mechanism that will provide new money, which by 2020 needs to amount to US $106 billion per year, to enable developing countries to mitigate the effects of and adapt to climate change and for forest protection.
  • Immediately commit to the establishment of a funding mechanism to stop deforestation and associated emissions in all developing countries by 2020, and achieve zero deforestation in the Amazon, Congo Basin and Indonesia by 2015.