US, Canada Rank Last in Curbing Warming, Report on G-8 Says

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Reuters

US, Canada Rank Last in Curbing Warming, Report on G-8 Says

by
Daniel Flynn

Prime Minister Stephen Harper shields his eyes from the stage lights as he looks for a reporter during a question period at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia June 25, 2009. REUTERS/Paul Darrow

ROME (Reuters) - With only five months to go until a new global pact on climate change, none of the Group of Eight nations is doing enough to curb global warming, with Canada and the United States ranking bottom, a study said on Wednesday.

The "G8 Climate Scorecards," compiled by environmental group WWF, said even the greenest members of the rich nations' club -- Germany, Britain and France -- were not on track to meet a "danger threshold" of limiting temperature rises to below two degrees Celsius.

G8 leaders gather in Italy next week to discuss the world financial crisis and climate change, hoping to make progress toward a new pact on global warming due to be signed in Copenhagen in December to replace the 1997 Kyoto deal.

They will be joined by members of U.S. President Barack Obama's Major Economies Forum in a bid to forge broad consensus.

"While there might be a bailout possibility for the financial system, no amounts of money will save the planet once climate change crosses the danger threshold," WWF head James Leape wrote in the foreword to the report.

Wednesday's annual G8 scorecard singled out Canada, saying Prime Minister Stephen Harper's conservative government had not implemented a plan to curb emissions, already among the highest in the world per capita and steadily increasing. Canada was not even close to meeting its Kyoto agreements, the WWF said.

The report praised U.S. President Obama for prioritizing clean energy in his economic recovery package and promoting green legislation, but said U.S. per capita emissions were among the highest in the world and were projected to rise.

"There has been more action in the U.S. in the last four months than in the last three decades -- a trend that will hopefully continue," the report said.

Obama's government has not embraced the 2 degree Celsius goal adopted by the European Union. Temperatures have already risen by 0.7 percent since the start of the industrial era.

"In order to avoid or reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change, G8 leaders must agree to do everything they can to stay below 2 degrees," said Kim Carstensen, leader of the WWF's Global Climate Initiative.

GERMANY TOP, THEN BRITAIN

Top of the G8 rankings came Germany, followed by Britain. The WWF praised Berlin for promoting renewable energy and an ambitious target of cutting greenhouse gases by 40 percent by 2020, though said this lacked clear plans for implementation.

"There is no reason to celebrate," said Regine Guenther, director for climate change, WWF Germany, adding that emissions needed to be cut by 95 percent by 2050. "This would be essential to keep global temperature rises well below two degrees."

Britain has already more than achieved its Kyoto pact targets due to a transition from coal to gas-fired power stations in the 1990s, but there was room to cut emissions in transport, power generation and services, the report said.

France has low emissions per capita for an industrialized nation due to its reliance on nuclear power, which provides more than three-quarters of its needs. The WWF does not support nuclear power due to concerns over safety and radioactive waste.

G8 host Italy has low emissions compared to G8 partners due mainly to the structure of its economy, the WWF said, but emissions were rising and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government was not making headway to meeting Kyoto obligations.

(Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)

 

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