A global carbon emissions trading scheme moved a step closer yesterday after leading world politicians and business leaders agreed that all major economies should face targets for cutting emissions and that a limit should be set for the maximum acceptable level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The non-binding agreement was reached at a two day meeting of the G8 group of the eight richest nations plus Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa in Washington this week. Attendees at the event - which was organised by British-led environmental group Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment (Globe) - included German chancellor Angela Merkel, president of the World Bank Paul Wolfowitz, US senator Joe Lieberman and presidential hopeful John McCain.
The group also agreed that man made global warming was "beyond doubt" and that a global carbon trading scheme should be instigated as the best means of capping and reducing emissions.
Experts said that while the agreement was non-binding it highlighted the growing political consensus that was developing around the need for climate change legislation and laid solid foundations for the imminent UN talks on agreeing a successor to the Kyoto protocol.
Senator John McCain, who hopes to be the next president of the US, also nailed his colours firmly to the environmental mast, declaring that climate change posed a threat to national security and arguing that voluntary targets for reducing emissions were inadequate.
McCain has co-sponsored climate change legislation with senator Joe Lieberman, who told the forum he was confident legally binding CO2 reduction targets would soon be in place in the US.
"I want to make a prediction, which is that the Congress of the United States will enact a nationwide law mandating substantial reductions in greenhouse gases before the end of this Congress or early in the next," he said.
With major players on both sides of the US political divide now committed to climate change legislation and lawmakers in developing countries such as China and India hinting they will come on board with greenhouse gas targets if the US does likewise a major breakthrough looks more likely than ever.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that a global emissions trading scheme, which would reward the cleanest companies and penalise the most polluting, is likely within the next five years and that firms that wish to turn the scheme into a revenue generator rather than a drain on the bottom line need to act now to reduce their carbon emissions wherever possible.
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