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Several Substantial Steps Forward:
The 2012 G8 Camp David’s Performance
on Energy and Climate Change

John Kirton, G8 Research Group
May 19, 2012, 19:30 CT

The Camp David Summit took several substantial steps forward to produce a sound success on energy and climate change. It appropriately put the emphasis on climate change, which received three paragraphs in the final declaration, compared to one on energy efficiency and two on energy alone. Even the energy paragraphs were framed within the overarching need to promote low-carbon policies to tackle climate change. The “all of the above” strategy it endorsed to enhance energy production was similarly conditioned by the need to proceed in an “environmentally safe, sustainable, secure and affordable manner.” The summit further emphasized the need for “high levels of nuclear safety,” pursuant to the extreme weather event of the tsunami and consequent nuclear accident in March 2011 in Japan. Simultaneously it called to “reduce barriers and refrain from discriminatory measures that impede market access” for energy supplies, a boost for the G8’s big energy exporters of Canada and Russia.

In the climate change paragraphs, three advances stood out. The first was the affirmation of an “all-in” approach to a post-Kyoto climate change control regime, to delivery by 2015 “an agreed outcome with legal force applicable to all Parties, developed and developing alike.” The second was the agreement that all G8 countries would now join the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants — those that caused more than 30 percent of near-term global warming, 2 million premature deaths a year and much harm to human health. The third was the call, in synergistic support of the G20, for “efforts to rationalize and phase-out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.”

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