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US, Canada, Russia ‘fail test’ on global warming

By Forbes (Forbes.com) - June 5, 2007

None of the Group of Eight (G8) countries is doing enough to avoid a dangerous escalation of global warming, but the worst offenders are the United States, Canada and Russia, environmental group the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said today.

In a ‘climate scorecard’ issued on the eve of the three-day G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, the WWF said none of the participants had taken sufficient steps to prevent the Earth’s average temperature from warming by less than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels.

The 2 C goal has been endorsed by the European Union and the summit host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has sought to enshrine it in the Heiligendamm final communique.

‘Three countries have failed the test: USA, Canada and Russia,’ WWF said in its survey.

‘The United States scores the worst of all G8 countries, not having ratified the Kyoto Protocol, nor having put any substantive federal measures in place to curb emissions in the short term.

‘Russia and Canada also have increasing emissions and no policy in place. Of the two in particular, Canada has taken little measures to curb its greenhouse gas emissions and the current government has taken up a policy stand which puts it sharply at odds with its Kyoto obligations as an advanced industrialised country.’

The G8 comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

The WWF said that the United States, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases that trap solar heat and warm the planet’s surface, had an increase of 16.3 pct between 1990 and 2005.

Worsening this poor performance, said the WWF, was President George W. Bush’s decision in 2001 to abandon the UN’s Kyoto Protocol, the only treaty that sets down targets for reducing emissions.

Russia’s emissions rose by 28.7 pct between 1990 and 2005, and Canada’s by 27 pct between 1990 and 2004.

Italy, which had an increase of 12.1 pct between 1990 and 2005, and Japan, with a rise of eight percent from 1990-2004, ‘rank a little better but are still far away from making a contribution to staying below 2 C,’ said the WWF.

‘The three countries furthest along this track are UK, France and Germany, but each is likely to see increases in emissions if further measures are not implemented soon.’

The WWF also observed a rise in carbon emissions among five big developing countries — Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa — whose leaders have also been invited to the summit.

China is fast becoming a source of concern for experts, as it is now the world’s second biggest polluter and is likely to outstrip the United States within a few years.

WWF said, however, it was not possible to score these five poorer countries in the same manner as the G8 group, ‘due to their different national circumstances and level of development.’

Although green groups and the EU are keen on promoting the 2 C objective, scientists caution that there is no known safe limit for global warming.

The mean global temperature has already risen by some 0.7 C (1.3 F) over the last century. This has already led to significant loss of Arctic sea ice, alpine glaciers and permafrost, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned.