The G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany is under way and the inevitable strains of bringing together the leaders of the eight most powerful nations in the world are already beginning to show.
Climate change is at the forefront of the issues being discussed, however, current disagreement between Russia and the West relating to proposed US missile defence sites is not improving the chances of unity.
The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel who is effectively hosting the meeting, is hoping to persuade the leaders of the industrialised countries attending to commit to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050. In addition she wants agreement to increase fuel efficiency by 20% and limit any further increase in the world's temperature to 2oC.
Despite Merkel's efforts the US is stubbornly refusing to commit to setting targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. This said, there is a general consensus among the G8 that there is need for global action on climate change and the US are prepared to go so far as agreeing with this. However, at this stage they will do little more than work towards a plan for implementation post Kyoto agreement.
It is unfortunate that Russia's reaction to proposed US missile defence shields is the backdrop to the present gathering of G8 leaders. What is even more unfortunate is that the US is likely to wriggle out of setting targets for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. This gives those nations who have less at stake a good reason to delay setting their own national targets as well.
I am no expert, and certainly no scientist, but it seems to me that slowing global climate change is a bit like slowing a large ocean going cargo ship, fully laden (with very heavy stuff). The thing is, to halt global warming will, like the ship, take a very long time and a huge amount of effort. To add to our problems the ship which is global warming is accelerating as it is fuelled by increasing emissions from developing countries like China and India. The longer it is left before we tackle the problem, the faster the ship will be going and the harder it will be to stop.
The question is, if we can't stop it how and where will it all end?
Sources : Federal Government Website and BBC News
Photo courtesy of Federal Government website/REGIERUNGonline/Gebhardt