The 17 strong Major Economies Forum (MEF) is due to meet in Italy to hopefully agree on a climate plan. The MEF member countries account for 80 percent of the world’s emissions, therefore any possibility of reducing emissions by a significant level is wholly dependent on the MEF. US President Obama is chairing the event, so the likelihood of some sort of agreement is pretty high. The real issue here is will the agreement have any merit or will it be a token gesture to give the impression of success?
Unfortunately the primary concern of any country’s leadership is economic, the issue of climate change comes a poor second to any country’s economy. With the world in recession at the moment, the last thing any government wants to do is commit to anything that can damage their industrial output. Reducing emissions can be achieved by any industrialised nation, but at a cost. For the developed world it can mean restricting industry, stifling growth and reducing the prosperity of its citizens. For the developing world it can mean a slower path to prosperity and more citizens remaining in poverty for longer.
There needs to be a concerted long term effort by the MEF to manage the massive level of emissions they produce year after year. Ways have to be found to minimise the economic damage while maximising the reduction in emission levels. I’m sure some decisions will be unpopular with the public, but new and innovative ways of reducing emissions have to be found. The alternative is increasing global temperatures leading to the expected rise in sea levels, larger areas of the planet affected by drought, food and water shortages, increasing migration and more armed conflicts.