Oxfam warns of G8 backtracking on climate change

“We need carbon cuts and we need this to happen now”
Takumo Yamada
Published: 23 May 2008

G8 environment ministers meeting this weekend in Kobe must set out an ambitious climate agenda for July’s G8 discussions, showing the world that the wheels set in motion at December’s UN climate conference in Bali are not grinding to a halt.

Oxfam is concerned that Japan's climate agenda for this year's G8 Summit stops short of delivering much-needed political momentum to tackle climate change. It is worried that the agenda is even weaker than it was a year ago in Germany, when members agreed to 'consider seriously the decisions made by the European Union, Canada and Japan, which include at least a halving of emissions by 2050'.

“The endless debate about ‘considering’ reducing emissions is long gone. We need carbon cuts and we need this to happen now. Japan must overcome its internal squabbling and show the same leadership on this as the Germans did last year. Anything less would be a clear step backward in the fight to combat global warming,” said Takumo Yamada, Oxfam spokesperson in Japan.

Oxfam is particularly concerned that the discussions around a 50 percent cut are off-the-mark and a distraction from what the G8 needs to be doing now: turning consideration into commitment and arguments into action. Only then will the international community stand a chance of keeping temperature rises below 2° C and preventing life-threatening consequences for the world’s poorest people.

The long-term target of a 50 percent cut is not enough to stay below the 2°C increase, Oxfam said.

Japan has also recently proposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a so-called sectoral approach. Oxfam believes that this approach must be negotiated as part of a fair global climate regime that keeps global warming below 2° C. A fair regime would see countries take action in line with their economic power and emissions’ record.

On biofuels, Oxfam calls on the ministers to stop adding fuel to the fire of rising food prices through their policies by rethinking existing mandates.

“In the midst of a global food crisis, it’s unacceptable for the rich world to burn food while the poor risk starvation. There is mounting scientific evidence that biofuel mandates are actually accelerating climate change. A serious rethink of policies is needed,” Yamada said.

Oxfam welcomes the focus on adaptation emerging from the G8 talks, but calls on G8 countries to channel new resources through the UN Adaptation Fund.

As the Japanese government is expected to announce a plan to offer $10 billion over the next five years to help poorer nations tackle climate change, Oxfam said that whilst this money is welcome, it should be seen as compensation and not count towards aid budgets.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact:
Louis Belanger, Media Officer Oxfam International on +1 202 321 2967 or
Takumo Yamada, Advocacy Manager Oxfam Japan on +81 80 3155 7017