June 20, 2005 14:56 ET

Climate change on G8 agenda in Scotland, July 6-8, 2005

Important background information for editors covering the G8 Summit Attention: Assignment Editor, Environment Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - June 20, 2005) - The annual G8 Heads of State Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland will focus on two themes - climate change and Africa. This is the first time climate change has taken centre stage at a G8 summit, and is being linked closely to Africa, where the impacts of climate change threaten the continents overall development potential.

With a growing number of scientific studies warning that the earth is at risk of approaching dangerous levels of climate change, WWF has high expectations that the Summit participants will recognize the urgency of the situation and agree that aggressive action on greenhouse gases is required. Unfortunately, recent coverage (Washington Post and Reuters) reveals that the Bush Administration, which refuses to accept the reality of climate change, has so far successfully weakened key sections of a proposal for joint action by the eight major industrialized nations.

Unless Prime Minister Paul Martin and other Heads of State committed to Kyoto resist the US policy of blocking all progress to effectively tackle climate change, George Bush will have hijacked the G8 agenda. With Canada poised to take over the Presidency of the Kyoto Protocol process, starting at the November Meeting of Parties in Montreal, the G8 Summit represents an opportunity for the Government of Canada to solidify global resolve and leadership in tackling this serious problem.

WWF is calling on the G8 nations to:

Ø Recognise the need and urgency of keeping average temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius in comparison to pre-industrial levels. Average temperatures have increased by 0.7 degrees Celsius, and scientific assessments show that unless the global temperatures stay well below this danger threshold, climate change will bring more frequent and extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts and floods which will have devastating impacts on people and wildlife.

Ø Commit to reducing C02 emissions, including aggressive targets and milestones. C02 emissions from industrialised countries as a whole have increased by 8.4 percent since 1990, with the power sector accounting for 40 percent of total emissions. A commitment to a clear and ambitious policy framework that reaffirms Kyoto countries will meet their own targets, that much deeper cuts in CO2 emissions are necessary in the future.

Ø Signal that carbon emission trading systems have a long-term future. Canada's 'cap & trade' system, which sets unambitious targets on relatively few major greenhouse gas emitters, would have to be bolstered to allow companies the advantage of trading in the European system.

Ø Launch a Clean Energy Initiative. Renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures are the most effective way of cutting C02 emissions and keeping the global temperature rise below 2 degrees C. With a focus on both the G8 nations and the so-called Outreach Countries -- China, Brazil, India, Mexico and South Africa - that do not have Kyoto obligations but represent 1/3 of global CO2 emissions, such an initiative will address the energy security needs of all countries and could provide up to 2 billion people access to electricity.

WWF is hosting and/or participating in several events/activities leading up to and at the Summit:

Monday, June 20: Release of Up in Smoke, a report, focusing on climate change and Africa by the Working Group on Climate Change and Development, which includes WWF.

Tuesday, June 28: Allianz, the world's second largest financial group, releases in London a report on the risks posed by climate change to the financial industry.

Friday, July1: Release, in Rome, of WWF's report on the impact of a 2-degree temperature increase on the Mediterranean region, particularly focusing on tourism, agricultural yields and the incidence of forest fires.

Saturday, July 2: Make Poverty History March, Edinburgh.

Sunday, July 3: G8 Alternative Summit, Edinburgh.

Monday/Tuesday, July 4-5: WWF-UK sponsored J8 schools competition in UK

Tuesday, July 5: Global Warming 8 (GW8) event, 0930-1200 at Our Dynamic Earth, Hollyrood Road, Edinburgh. WWF-India's Samrat Sengupta will address the meeting.

Wednesday-Friday, July 6-8: Opening, reactive and closing press statements available throughout the Summit.

All materials are available at www.panda.org/climate. A limited number of climate change B-roll tapes are available from the media team in Gleneagles.

For further information please contact:
WWF International, Brian Thomson, t +41 79 477 3553, email: bthomson@wwfint.org
WWF-Canada, Julia Langer, Director Global Threats, 416-484-7709, email: jlanger@wwfcanada.org
WWF-Canada, Lorne Johnson, Director, Ottawa Bureau, 613-868-5160 email: ljohnson@wwfcanada.org


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