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British climate envoy grim on G8 prospects

John Ashton.
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) June 26, 2008
Britain's negotiator on climate change warned Thursday that the upcoming summit of the Group of Eight rich nations was unlikely to reach a consensus on how to tackle global warming.

"We should be careful not to expect too much of the conversations next week," John Ashton told reporters in Tokyo ahead of the July 7-9 summit in the northern resort of Toyako.

"We are not going to have a major breakthrough in the global effort on climate change because the conditions at the moment are not conducive," Ashton said. "We are still in the process of building the political consensus that we need."

Ashton was coming back from Seoul, where a US-led meeting last weekend of 16 major economies, including the G8 countries and developing nations such as China and India, failed to agree on concrete climate goals.

Japan had proposed that the Seoul meeting set a long-term goal of halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, language similar to what was agreed at the last year's G8 summit in Germany.

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has voiced hope for progress on climate change at the G8 summit as a UN-backed deadline looms to come up with a new treaty by the end of next year.

But Fukuda has conceded that the G8 will not set targets on cutting emissions for the mid-term period after Kyoto's obligations run out in 2012.

The United States, the only major industrial nation to reject Kyoto, has argued that the G8 is not the right forum to discuss mid-term targets as it does not include developing countries.

Ashton urged the world's rich nations to send "strong signals" to take the lead, which would send a "follow me" message to developing countries.

"Nobody moves till everybody moves, and the result is that nobody moves and you get a gridlock," he said, referring to past trade negotiations. "We cannot do that in relation to climate change."

"If you want China and India to do it quickly, then you have to have the confidence to continue leading the way," he said.

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Tokyo approves Japan's first greenhouse gas curbs
Tokyo (AFP) June 25, 2008
Tokyo's local government on Wednesday ordered Japan's first mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and set up a carbon market, moving faster than the national government.

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