Leaders of the world's seven most industrialised nations and Russia were greeted at Gleneagles, Scotland, on 6 July by protesters of another type to the usual anti-globalisation contingent.
As the G8 prepared to discuss global warming issues and poverty alleviation in Africa, they were presented with a report from the UK House of Lords economic committee claiming that the UN Kyoto Protocol will not deliver and that costs estimates of fulfilling UK commitments on climate change were "wildly optimistic".
The traditionally conservative Lords wrote: "We are concerned that UK energy and climate policy appears to be based on dubious assumptions about the roles of renewable energy and energy efficiency and that the costs to the UK of achieving its objectives have been poorly documented". They pressed the government to substantiate its costs estimates, involving more of the economics ministry (Treasury) and less of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Moreover, the Lords cast doubt on the United Nations' objectivity about global warming science, saying that emissions scenarios presented by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are "apparently influenced by political considerations". They therefore recommended that the government presses the IPCC to change its approach.
Other points in the report summary:
- "There are some positive aspects to global warming and these appear to have been played down in the IPCC"
- "Since warming will continue, regardless of action now, due to the lengthy time lags in climate systems […] a more balanced approach to the relative merits of adaptation and mitigation is needed, with far more attention paid to adaptation measures"
On what should be done after Kyoto, the Lords were adamant: "We are concerned that the international negotiations on climate change reduction will be ineffective because of the preoccupation with setting emissions targets," they said.
The Lords then urged the UK government to take a lead in exploring alternative options for future global action on climate change after 2012, "based perhaps on agreements on technology and its diffusion".