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Major Developing Nations Lukewarm On G8 Climate Goals

G8 Heads of State pose in a giant beach chair for a family picture in front of the Kurhaus building in Heiligendamm, northeastern Germany, during their first working session: (L-R) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Italian Prime minister Romano Prodi and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is hosting the meeting as the chairman of the G8, which also includes Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Emsie Ferreira
Berlin (AFP) Jun 07, 2007
The leaders of five major developing nations on on Thursday signalled they would not bow to pressure from the Group of Eight to commit to binding targets in the fight against global warming. Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa insisted ahead of talks with G8 leaders on Friday that their "different capacities and interests" must be considered when tackling climate change.

The leaders of the G8 on Thursday agreed to seek "substantial" cuts in global emissions and "seriously consider" the target of cutting climate-changing gases by at least half by 2050.

"We commit to achieving these goals and invite the major emerging economies to join us in this endeavour," the most industrialised countries said in declaration issued at their summit in Heiligendamm in northeastern Germany.

After a meeting in Berlin to agree their position, the so-called Plus Five group of emerging nations said they needed help from more developed nations in combatting the pollution caused by their rapidly expanding economies.

"Regarding matters that will be discussed in Heiligendamm with the G8 countries, the leaders were pleased to note opportunities for joint collaboration in the fields of cross-border investment, research and innovation, climate change, energy and development," a statement from the leaders said.

"The consensus view was that all of these challenges must be addressed from a multi-lateral regional and bilateral perspective taking into consideration the interests and capacities of different states."

India said it would not waver in its refusal to accept mandatory restrictions on its output of greenhouse gases.

"India's position on climate change has not changed," Indian foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna told AFP.

Both India and China, which have a combined population of 2.4 billion and rising pollution levels, reject restrictions on emissions because for fear that it would slow their economic growth and affect efforts to fight poverty.

An advisor to South African President Thabo Mbeki said African nations "by and large agreed" with the position that the industrialised world must take the lead in slashing emissions.

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva criticised the G8 agreement in Heiligendamm for setting a too-distant goal on capping emissions.

"What is happening with this long deadline is that nobody will do anything until the last minute... We will arrive in 2049 without having done anything," he said.

"It is necessary to have a shorter horizon." The stance of the Plus Five nations poses another challenge for German Chancellor Angela Merkel after her tenacious battle to secure a G8 accord on climate change in the face of strong reservations from the United States.

Merkel has made clear that developing nations must shoulder more responsibility in any agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol on curbing greenhouse gases, the UN-backed framework which expires in 2012.

She has warned that any major initiative to stop the planet overheating is doomed to fail unless they sign up.

India and China are part of the Kyoto Protocol but as developing nations do not have to make emissions cuts, a condition which only applies to industrialised countries that have signed it and ratified it.

Yet their rapidly expanding economies are creating increasing amounts of greenhouse gases.

Environmental experts say China is set to overtake the United States as the world's top carbon polluter within several years.

US President George W. Bush on Thursday also insisted that China and India must be tied into any deal to cut emissions because of their strong economic growth.

The Bush administration in 2001 cited the fact that mandatory emission reduction targets were not imposed on China as one of Washington's reasons for refusing to ratify Kyoto.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Climate Groups Cool On G8 Deal But US Turnabout Hailed
Heiligendamm, Germany (AFP) Jun 07, 2007
Environmental groups dismissed a climate change accord hammered out by the Group of Eight wealthy nations as an empty gesture but observers hailed the pact Friday for tying the United States to the goal of fighting global warming. The G8 agreed at a summit in this German seaside resort to pursue major cuts to dangerous greenhouse gas pollution and said they would "seriously consider" the goal of halving global emissions by 2050.

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