After the wishy-washy agreement that the G8 countries share the same vision at last year’s G8 summit in Heiligendamm, this year’s summit in Toyako can be considered a breakthrough with all G8 countries agreeing to adopt a target for reducing CO2 emissions. The host country Japan calls the summit a success as the G8 countries are now committed to a 50 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. However, G8 leaders couldn’t agree on a base year with which the emission levels should be compared. Besides, there was no agreement on medium-term targets which is criticized by environmentalists.
An area with huge potential to save CO2 emissions is car traffic. On the one hand, drivers all around the world feel the pain of skyrocketing gasoline bills. And most Americans seem to be aware now that extra oil drilling in Alaska won’t solve the problem. On the other hand, shifting away from gasoline is one of the easiest and most rational ways of cutting emissions. Other measures like carbon storage carry along numerous dangers and are inefficient and expensive, whereas the shift towards electric cars will undoubtedly be to the benefit of car drivers. The introduction of electric cars on a grand scale will help to set a limit on costs for driving and even help to reduce commuters’ spending in the medium-term, will reduce air pollution in cities, will increase the national security as the dependence on fossil fuel imports will be reduced and will be a powerful tool to combat global warming. By giving incentives for zero emissions vehicles and by providing an adequate infrastructure (quick-charging spots, battery exchange stations, etc…) the governments can jump start the spread of electric vehicles. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that clean cars would be exempt from car tax in Britain in order to meet Britain’s CO2 reduction target. Moreover, there’s no congestion charge for these cars in big cities like e.g. in London. Next to these measures, the G8 give a few recommendations to boost energy efficiency. Britain will introduce numerous programmes to coach the people in terms of energy efficiency. Though this kind of paternalism might go too far, the focus on energy efficiency is necessary. From September on, new motorists in Britain will be tested on whether they can drive in an environmentally-friendly way. Another programme highlights the importance of correct tyre pressure in terms of fuel efficiency. Under-inflated tyres increase the fuel consumption of cars by several percent. In order to reduce the energy consumption of electric items in standby mode, new standards will be introduced. Gordon Brown expects that if all energy efficiency recommendations are introduced around the globe, the emissions will be reduced by an amount equivalent to the emissions that come from the U.S. at the moment, this means a 20 percent cut of the global energy use.