YET AGAIN the presidents and prime ministers of the richest countries have put their “national interests” ahead of the need for urgent cuts in carbon emissions.

In Japan last month the best they could do was announce a vague goal of halving emissions by 2050. That will be too little, too late, with no interim targets for 2020 or even an agreed benchmark against which reductions can be measured.

The G8 countries are responsible for 62 per cent of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Rich countries must act first, then provide clean technology to developing nations, so development can be de-linked from carbon dependency.

Capitalism’s rivalry between giant corporations for profits and market share is being played out on the G8 diplomatic stage. Governments are refusing to do what the science of climate change demands: make cuts now. Instead each state is waiting to see how they can best protect their corporations from the costs of transforming the industrial economy out of dirty energy. Bush still refuses to sign Kyoto and negotiations for a replacement protocol will not get serious until next year at Copenhagen, in Denmark.

Last century this imperialist rivalry led to world wars and the threat of nuclear annihilation. Most people want urgent action on the climate crisis, and to put the needs of all humanity ahead of corporate profit. The challenge for all of us is to turn this sentiment into mass pressure on our governments to act.

By Bruce Knobloch

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