G8, developing partners call for broad emission cuts (Lead)

July 9th, 2008 - 2:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Toyako, July 9 (DPA) The Group of Eight (G8) leaders and their counterparts from the world’s eight major developing countries committed themselves Wednesday to “a long-term global goal for emission reductions”. But while recognising that “deep cuts” were needed in order to combat climate change, they failed to agree on setting specific targets, saying only the reduction in greenhouse gases should take place according to the means of each country.

On the second day of their summit in Toyako, Japan, the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US came face-to-face with their colleagues from Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea.

The talks focused on climate change and energy security and were also attended by the heads of the UN, the World Bank, the International Energy Agency and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The joint declaration by the so-called Meeting of Major Economies (MEM) was issued a day after the leaders of the world’s seven richest nations and Russia announced that they would seek to halve global emissions by 2050.

No mention of the “50 by 50″ target was made in the statement, evidence that big polluters such as China and India were not yet willing to commit themselves to the cuts.

Environmentalist groups called Wednesday’s statement a step backwards.

“It’s just a rehash of previous commitments. It’s a retreat from the substance,” said Ben Wikler of AVAAZ.org, a pressure group that has accused the G8 of not taking the environmental crisis seriously enough.

In their statement, the group of 16 said: “Climate change is one of the greatest global challenges of our time. Conscious of our leadership role in meeting such challenges, we, the leaders of the world’s major economies, both developed and developing, commit to combat climate change in accordance with our common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.”

While acknowledging the “urgency of the challenge” posed by global warming, the MEM conceded that their efforts to reduce emissions would ultimately depend on new and innovative technologies that do not yet exist.

Brazil and Indonesia promised to protect their forests while there was a general call to move towards cleaner and low-carbon technologies, including nuclear power, “for those of us interested”.

Tuesday’s “50 by 50″ pledge has been strongly criticised for lacking a reference to a base year with which to measure the cuts.

Diplomats say the European Union (EU) would have liked to use 1990 as a base, but Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said he preferred to use current emission levels.

Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa - the so-called G5 - further argue that the rich world should take the lead by cutting its emissions by up to 95 percent by 2050.

During their final meetings in Japan, G8 and MEM leaders were also expected to discuss the problems posed by spiralling food prices.

While the rich world says food export restrictions should be lifted, the G5 argues that the US and the EU should stop subsidising their farmers.

Other issues up for discussion Wednesday included the weak dollar vis-a-vis the euro and the value of the Chinese renminbi.

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