The G8 Summit in Gleneagles has advanced the international debate on climate change and opened a new political dialogue that can in time lead to broad, effective international action.
For the first time ever, leaders of the major industrial economies and the major emerging economies sat together with the challenge of climate change placed squarely before them. This is precisely the group that must form the core of an effective international climate effort. One encouraging outcome of their discussions was the decision by G8 leaders to launch with other interested countries a Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development. This dialogue presents an important opportunity to explore potential paths forward and to forge the political understandings that must be the underpinnings of an effective global climate strategy.
In acknowledging the human contribution to global warming, and the urgency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the leaders took an important step toward that deeper political consensus. The Summit delivered little in the way of concrete action; there was little reason to believe it would. Yet by placing climate change at the top of the Summit’s agenda, Prime Minister Blair forced a necessary debate at the highest levels and won agreement to take the conversation forward. It will be up to the G8 leaders and their developing country counterparts to ensure its success.