The G8 has officially elevated climate change above the level of an “environmental concern,” and to that of a global economic and security risk. In a communique released last week after the Lough Erne Summit in Northern Ireland, the G8 nations declare:
We recognise climate change as a contributing factor in increased economic and security risks globally.
Tom Burke, founding director of E3G, and former Senior Business Advisor to the UK Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative on Climate Change, notes that this is a very, very big deal. As reported by RTCC, Tom Burke states:
“That’s the first time I can recall an explicit statement from the G8 leaders that this is not an environmental issue. It is an economic and security issue…” … “It jumped out at me – it’s a significant statement. And it’s the contradiction that if you are saying that, and want to revitalise growth and deal with poverty, then you better keep the temperature below 2°C or you have not got a prayer of doing that.”
The G8, though an informal body that does not emit legally-binding products, is very influential in setting the global agenda on a range of issues – particularly in regards to economic policy. That’s why Summits always include heads of state, and not just representatives. If climate change is seen collectively by the G8 as a contributing risk to the global economy, and to global security, then it becomes imperative for member nations to take serious steps to slow climate change down, and to mitigate its effects.
Though it may not seem so important on the surface, buried as it is in a somewhat colorless document, this declaration may signal the start of a much more earnest round of action by the international community on climate change. If that doesn’t happen, we can at least point to this document and call on the G8 nations to advance measures commensurate to the risk they themselves identified.