Wednesday, July 8, 2009

G8 leaders back 2-degree warming limit

By Europe Correspondent Philip Williams and wires

ABC News Online, Posted 9 July 2009

Leaders of the world's major industrialised nations have reportedly agreed to carbon emission cuts that would limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The leaders have been meeting at a G8 summit in the central Italian town of L'Aquila.

There is little detail but it is reported developed countries will aim for the biggest cuts - 80 per cent - while developing nations will be required to reduce their emissions by 50 per cent by the target year 2050.

Despite G8 backing for a 50 per cent cut in emissions globally, a broader group of major polluters, including many developing countries such as China and India, dropped a pledge earlier to halve their pollution by 2050.

"We recognise the broad scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2 degrees Celsius," the G8 leaders said.

"Because this global challenge can only be met by a global response, we reiterate our willingness to share with all countries the goal of achieving at least a 50 percent reduction of global emission by 2050," they added.

The 50 per cent target was first put in writing at the G8 summit in Japan last year, but according to Japanese Government spokesman Kazuo Kodama, the big eight leaders have struggled to convince major emerging economies to join in.

"You remember G8 achieved a consensus within G8 that G8 will embrace a long-term gas reduction target by 2050?" he said on the margins of the summit, speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Taro Aso.

"Our leaders tried hard to convince the emerging economies in the 'outreach five'. They didn't agree. This year we hoped the MEF countries as a group would also embrace this target but I haven't heard yet there's any agreement."

The Major Economies Forum (MEF) represents the G8 members plus the most important emerging economies, which all together generate 80 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

US President Barack Obama and other leaders face mounting pressure to make ambitious commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions with the clock ticking ahead of a key December meeting in Copenhagen to set international targets.

Swedish Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt, whose country holds the European Union's rotating presidency, stressed agreeing an over-arching target to limit global warming to 2C by 2050 would be crucial.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says the G8 deal paved the way for agreement at the Copenhagen Climate conference later this year.

He said he was confident other non-G8 countries would support the agreement when they meet at the major economies forum at L'Aquila chaired by Mr Obama.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will be at that meeting.


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