The G8 agreed that dramatic cuts in the levels of CO² emissions are needed. In setting a global goal, they agreed to “consider seriously the decisions made by the European Union, Canada and Japan which include at least a halving of global emissions by 2050.”
The decision means negotiations among United Nations Environment Ministers can now get underway in the lead up to the Global Climate Change conference in Bali in December.
Hailing Thursday’s decision as a major achievement, Commission President José Manuel Barroso explained, “It is no longer if we should act, but by when and how. And even on those points we have increasingly clear answers.”
UN negotiations should be finished by 2009, giving governments enough time to ratify an agreement by the time the Kyoto protocol runs out, in 2012. “The EU already has ambitious greenhouse gas emission targets,” said President Barroso, “We will now get a wider UN target to step up action when the first commitment period of the Kyoto comes to an end, because the science, the public opinion and support from business will get us there.”
Announcing the decision, German Chancellor Angela Merkel described it as a “significant and important step forward.”
China made clear this week that with 700 million people living on less than 1.40 a day, its chief priority must be growth.
“If we move to a 50% cut that would mean that China could still grow but not in an uncontrolled manner,” Chancellor Merkel explained.
Answering criticism that the agreement was too vague, the Chancellor said countries have a common but differentiated responsibility which everyone was going to have to shoulder.
G8 leaders, under pressure to honour aid commitments made in 2005, also pledged to spend 44bn fighting AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Africa, with America putting forward half of the sum.
Building on previous summits, Africa was high on the agenda with good governance, human rights and the rule of law as key priorities. The Presidents of Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Algeria, Senegal and Ghana were invited to discuss how best to achieve the millennium goals outlined by the United Nations.
The human rights abuses, including mass rape and killings, and the ever growing number of displaced people in Darfur were firmly in the minds of G8 leaders. Remaining committed to resolving the crisis, in a pre-summit declaration, they appealed to the government and rebels in Sudan to allow aid to get through to all those in the conflict zone who need it. They called on all parties to return to the negotiating table in order to reach a political agreement.
“We will do everything to get a UN mission there,” stated Chancellor Merkel adding that the G8 would provide financial support to help with this.
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