Missed Opportunity: MEF Squanders Precious Time

Washington--In response to the Major Economies Forum meeting this week, Greenpeace USA Deputy Campaigns Director Carroll Muffett released the following statement:

"Two more days wasted. 222 left to go."

The first meeting of the Major Economies Forum (MEF) wrapped up today in Washington, D.C. The MEF brought together the 17 most polluting nations on the planet-responsible for the vast majority of all global greenhouse gas emissions-to discuss the future of climate policy and, with it, the future of billions of people worldwide threatened by global warming.

While not a formal part of the UN climate negotiations that must culminate in a new global treaty in Copenhagen this December, the MEF process is touted by its conveners as a means to accelerate and facilitate that process.

"Unfortunately, while the last two days brought soaring and inspiring rhetoric-reflecting the profound sea change in U.S. climate policy-it brought little in the way of real progress." U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the meeting by recognizing the now inescapable truth that climate change poses a 'clear and present danger to our world' and the equally inevitable fact that today's leaders will be judged by future generations on how they respond.

Yet Clinton's call for the MEF to generate "concrete initiatives" that leaders can consider at the Group of 8 meeting in Italy in July went largely unheeded-including by the U.S. itself. Despite its commitment to show leadership, the United States has yet to commit to the dramatic short-term emissions reductions that will make a deal in Copenhagen possible, proposing instead that agreements focus on long-term emissions reduction commitments that are insufficient to avert catastrophic climate change.

"This meeting should have been used to set the stage for a strong and binding agreement in Copenhagen, by moving industrialized nations closer to a declaration of ambitious short-term emissions reduction commitments and moving the world beyond the North-South rhetoric that has stalled negotiations to date. Unfortunately, the meeting saw no real progress towards greener development pathways for developing countries and no new financial and technical support from developed countries to make that development possible."

Whether even the carbon emissions of delegates' flights to the meetings were "offset" by the negligible progress made is doubtful. Here's calling on our leaders to ensure the next round of MEF meetings moves us closer to a solution at Copenhagen. The world can't afford more wasted time."



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