G8 endorses emissions cuts and nuclear

09 July 2009

Leaders of the G8 have agreed goals for global greenhouse gas emission reductions and have witnessed the essential role to be played by nuclear energy.


G8 Italy (July 2009)

G8 leaders meet in L'Aquila, Italy


Meeting in L'Aquila, Italy, the leaders agreed to a goal of achieving at least a 50% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with developed countries achieving an 80% reduction in emissions by the same date. These goals were set in the context of the scientific view that global average temperatures should not rise by more than 2ºC above preindustrial levels.


The G8 leaders had already called for a 50% gloal emissions reduction at the 2008 G8 meeting in Hokkaido, Japan. The L'Aquila agreement expressed the G8's willingness to share a 50% reduction of global emissions with all countries, noting that global emissions would soon have to peak. The G8 said that major emerging economies would need to undertake quantifiable actions to reduce emissions below 'business as usual' levels.


The declaration was unclear on what actual reduction the 80% emission reduction goal for developed countries represented, saying it would be set against 1990 emissions levels or those of more recent years. As global emissions have risen by around a fifth since 1990, a later baseline would represent a higher final emissions goal. It was recognised that the 80% emissions reduction goal would require robust mid-term reductions, although no intermediate targets were set.


USA to host nuclear security summit

As part of the proceedings at L’Aquila, President Obama announced that the USA will host a global nuclear security summit in March 2010.


The summit will aim to produce a communiqué pledging efforts to attain the highest levels of nuclear security, which the White House describes as essential for international security and for the development and expansion of peaceful nuclear energy around the world.


"We should not wait for an act of nuclear terrorism before working together to collectively improve our nuclear security culture, share our best practices and raise our standards for nuclear security," said President Obama.

On nuclear energy, the G8 'witnessed' that a growing number of countries see nuclear power as a means to address climate change and energy security, with an essential role in meeting the dual challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering fossil fuel consumption.


The declaration reaffirmed the fundamental prerequisite of an international commitment to safeguards, safety and security, with the G8 Nuclear Safety and Security Group continuing to work on these issues.


The International Energy Agency (IEA) responded to the G8 declaration with delight at the strong focus on the need for increased investment in energy supplies, energy efficiency and low-carbon technology. The IEA's own projections suggested that more than half of the emissions reductions required to achieve a 50% reduction in global emissions would come from energy efficiency, with greater use of renewables and nuclear power also playing important roles.