G8 agrees to limit warming to 2°

The Group of Eight (G8) has agreed to try to limit global warming to 2º Celsius and cut its greenhouse-gas emissions by 80%, Reuters reported, but failed to persuade China and India to join an attempt to reduce global emissions by 50% by 2050. Environmental groups said the G8 had avoided key issues and left much work to be done ahead of key climate talks in Copenhagen in December.

While the 2º goal was adopted for the first time by the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada, it was agreed in 1996 by the European Union and its G8 members Germany, Britain, France and Italy.

The statement by the eight leading industrial nations failed to provide a base year for the 80% emissions reduction, saying only that it should be “compared to 1990 or more recent years”. That leaves the target open to interpretation. Developing nations demanded that rich ones commit to steeper short-term reductions.

The G8 also backed the creation of a global carbon-trading market and a fund financed by rich nations to pay for technological change. However, it fell short of the US$100 billion a year advocated by prime minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom and non-governmental groups.

“While agreeing to keep temperature rise to below 2°-rise Celsius, without a clear plan, money and targets on how to do this, the G8 leaders will not have helped to break the deadlock in the UN climate negotiations,” said Tobias Muenchmeyer, a Greenpeace International political advisor.

The temperature target was due to be included in a statement from the 17-member Major Economies Forum (MEF), which groups the G8 and major developing economies, including China and India. Delegates said the absence of the Chinese leader, Hu Jintao, dashed hopes of a breakthrough. Hu returned home from the gathering in Italy to deal with an outbreak of ethnic violence in western China.

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