G8 fails to deliver binding emissions targets

A gathering of the leaders of the world's richest countries has agreed that substantial reductions should be made to their greenhouse gas emissions but has failed to put any figures on these cuts.

The agreement reached at the G8 summit in Germany’s Heiligendamm does make some progress by binding members to reductions but did not goes as far as setting clear targets, as host Chancellor Angela Merkel had hoped.

Nevertheless, Merkel called the agreement “the most important decision for the coming two years,” adding that many participants had “moved their positions quite considerably.”

Before the summit American President George Bush had pre-empted speculation that a solid agreement on carbon emissions might come out of the gathering by telling the world’s press he did not feel that the venue was the right place to dictate policy to members.

His acceptance of an, albeit vague, agreement to reduce emissions does, however, bring the USA closer to the European and Japanese position and has been widely seen as a step in the right direction.

Mr Bush has made it clear, however, that he is unwilling to sign up to any agreement that sets numerical targets which could damage the American economy unless all the world’s big polluters – including those outside the G8 such as India and China – agree to the same standards.

The summit also saw a secondary, more specific agreement committing the club of industrialised nations to work towards cutting global GHG emissions by at least half by 2050 and to work ‘within the UN process’ – a reference to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

America and Russia both refused to sign up to this.

Sam Bond

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