Bush Denies G8 Summit a Climate Agreement (2005)
(ENS) TOYAKO --
leaders of the world's eight wealthiest countries, the G8, announced July 8 that they support the goal of cutting global emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases by half within 42 years.
We "seek to adopt, as a global goal, the goal of achieving at least fifty percent reduction of global greenhouse emission by 2050," the leaders said in a statement. "We, the G8, have confirmed today here at Toyako that this long-term goal is an appropriate and necessary goal for the Earth."
"This long-term goal requires the wisdom and cooperation of the entire world," the leaders said.
"When we look back, the past year has been a long journey," said Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda of Japan. "Since agreeing to "seriously consider" a long-term goal, at last year's Heiligendamm Summit, Japan, as the Chair of G8, has repeatedly conducted difficult negotiations. We have arrived at the agreement reached today," he said.
To achieve absolute emissions reductions, the G8 will implement "ambitious economy-wide mid-term goals," the leaders pledged.
In addition, they pointed to new multilateral "climate investment funds" that have been set up to assist the efforts of developing countries. In this context, Japan will promote its "Cool Earth Partnership Initiative."
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda of Japan said, "It goes without saying that the achievement of the long-term goal will only be realized with the contribution for other major economies. At tomorrow's Major Economies Meeting, we will strongly call on such countries for cooperation."
Leaders of Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and South Korea are in Japan for that Wednesday meeting.
"Based on the strong resolve expressed here today at Toyako, we will begin efforts to lead to the common action on a global scale," Fukuda said. "This, I feel, is the important mission that is entrusted on us, as we are responsible for the future of the next generation."
As part of the agreement, the G8 will set up a new international initiative for the research and development of innovative technologies to contribute to the realization of a low-carbon society. The leaders agreed to establish and hold an energy forum to focus on energy efficiency and new technologies.
German Chancelor Angela Merkel said today the climate agreement was a "major step forward" from the G8 position at the Heiligendamm Summit in Germany. "I'm very satisfied with the work that has gone on on the G8 documents, as regards progress on the issue of climate change," she said.
From Toyaka where he is attending the G8 Summit, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the statement today by the G8 leaders that they aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2050, saying he was "reasonably encouraged" by the news.
The key, he said, would be to act on this commitment and to build momentum to reach a global emission reduction pact by 2009. "We must agree by the end of December next year in Copenhagen to adopt a global agreement which is balanced, inclusive and ratifiable. This is a crucial task for us to do," he said.
In the past, the United States has been reluctant to endorse a numerical target for emissions reductions. This year, Bush did not block G8 agreement on the 2050 goal.
President Bush's "sherpa," Dan Price, formally titled assistant to the president for international economic affairs and deputy national security advisor, told reporters that the president had persuaded the other G8 leaders to establish the technology initiative.
"At the president's urging, the leaders collectively have committed to annually dedicate $10 billion to technology research and development, and the U.S. will be investing nearly half that amount, covering a quite broad range of technology needs and opportunities," said Price.
"The G8, as reflected in this declaration, is also embarking on the most ambitious energy efficiency agenda to date, seeking to implement in each country the 25 International Energy Agency recommendations, as well as launching an international partnership for energy efficiency cooperation," Price said.
At past G8 meetings, there have been general discussions about helping developing countries with new technologies. "Today, again at the president's urging, many of the G8 leaders have specifically committed to support the Clean Technology Fund, Price said.
This fund is expected to lower the cost of financing clean energy projects in developing countries, and help leverage greater amounts of public and private financing.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told journalists at the Summit that S$6 billion in new funds from the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan and Germany woud be channeled through the World Bank to assist with forestry and clean technology programs in developing countries.
There is also a new commitment of $100 billion of financing over the next three years from development banks to support clean energy investment, Brown said.
In their climate change communique, the G8 leaders sounded a note of caution about "a growing number of countries" interested in using nuclear power as a means to addressing climate change and energy security concerns.
"We reiterate that safeguards (nuclear nonproliferation), nuclear safety and nuclear security (3S) are fundamental principles for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Against this background, an international initiative proposed by Japan on 3S-based nuclear energy infrastructure will be launched. We affirm the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency in this process," the leaders stated.
The deployment of technologies is linked to the elimination of trade barriers. The G8 leaders made their strongest statement to date about the importance and urgency of reaching agreement in the Doha trade negotiations on the elimination of trade barriers to the deployment of clean energy technology and services, particularly in key developing countries, said Price.
The G8 leaders welcomed decisions taken in Bali last December as the foundation for reaching a global agreement in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, process by 2009. "We are committed to its successful conclusion," they said in their five-page communique.
But some environmental advocates were critical of the G8 declaration. The target of halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 was described as "pathetic" and "dangerously short of what is needed" by Kim Carstensen, director of WWF's Global Climate Initiative.
In a statement, WWF accuses G8 leaders of failing to boost international climate negotiations and criticizes what the global conservation organization terms "the lack of commitment to mid-term targets."
"Confirming the results of last year's summit in Heiligendamm is hardly a remarkable outcome," said Carstensen. "So little progress after a whole year of ministerial meetings and negotiations is not only a wasted opportunity, it falls dangerously short of what is needed to protect people and nature from climate change."
WWF reminded the G8 leaders that scientific evidence clearly outlines an urgent need to cut global emissions "way more" than 50 percent by 2050 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
Carstensen said global emissions have to peak and decline in 10 to 15 years and rich nations must reduce emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020. She said, "These crucially important necessities are not reflected in the G8 communique."
Environment News Service and reprinted by special permission
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