"It seems to have gone virtually unnoticed, but the world leaders at the weekend's G8 summit look as if they have taken the biggest step in years in tackling climate change. And it's quite apart from anything to do with carbon dioxide."
"The summit's final communiqué, the Camp David Declaration, supports 'comprehensive actions' to reduce 'short-lived climate pollutants'. These substances – including black carbon (soot), methane, ground-level ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons – are responsible for about half of global warming. Straightforward measures to address them, a report by the United Nations Environment Programme concluded last year, would delay dangerous climate change by more than three decades, buying crucial time for the much more difficult process of slashing carbon dioxide emissions.
More important still, the measures would save some 2.4 million lives a year, mainly by cutting the inhalation of soot, chiefly emitted by vehicle diesel engines and by the inefficient wood and dung burning cookstoves used by most of the world's poorest people – and increase grain harvests, at present hit by pollution, by 52 million tons a year.
While the international climate negotiations drag on, these pollutants can be reduced through existing national laws and regulations, using technologies that are already available. And many climate sceptics agree on the importance of doing so: Senator James Inhofe, who pioneered Republican rejection of action to curb carbon dioxide, supports it on black carbon, while Canada – which caused controversy this winter by quitting the Kyoto Protocol – has been in the forefront of countries urging an assault on such the short-lived agents of climate change."
"G8 Deaf to Climate Change Warnings by International Energy Agency" (Global Campaign for Climate Action/Huffington Post)
"UN Bonn Climate Conference Delegates Say Greenhouse Gas Ambitions Lacking" (Reuters)
"G-8 to Eliminate Fossil Fuel Subsidies, Curb Climate Pollutants" (Environment News Service)
"Fact Sheet: G-8 Action on Energy and Climate Change" (White House)
"Document: Statement from G8 World Leaders, May 18-19, 2012" (Aljazeera)