RUSUTSU, Japan - The Associated Press
The world's top powers took aim at climate change and economic instability yesterday, endorsing a goal of halving the world's greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and warning that rising food and oil prices jeopardize the global economy.
The Group of Eight nations, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the world economy, face mounting pressure to take decisive action to resolve the globe's most pressing financial problems and help stem a potentially disastrous rise in world temperatures.
In a communiqué on the second day of a three-day summit, G8 members said they supported the goal of chopping gas emissions at least in half by mid-century, in a move to rejuvenate U.N.-led talks on forging a new global warming pact by the end of next year.
The Group of Eight countries - the United States, Japan, Russia, Germany, France, Britain, Canada and Italy - also called on all major nations such as China and India to join in the effort to stem the potentially dangerous rise in world temperatures.
"This global challenge can only be met by a global response, in particular, by the contributions from all major economies," the G8 said in a joint, five-page communiqué on climate.
The G8 last year at a summit in Germany pledged to seriously consider the same target, and this year's Japanese hosts had hoped to solidify that commitment at the current meeting in Toyako, northern Japan.
Pact falls short:
The United States and the European Union hailed the accord as significant progress in pushing forward U.N.-led talks aimed at forging a new international global warming pact by the end of next year. But environmentalists and some developing nations said the pact fell short of the need for rich countries to set shorter-term targets for 2020.
"It is essential that developed countries take the lead in achieving ambitious and absolute greenhouse gas emission reductions," the so-called G5 countries - India, China, South Africa, Mexico and Brazil - said in a joint statement. They urged wealthy countries to cut emissions by 80 percent to 90 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
On the economy, the G8 said it was positive about the outlook, despite problems.
The leaders called for boosted oil production and refining capacities in the short term, for investment to be increased over the medium-term, and for diversifying sources of energy and further efforts to improve energy efficiency.
To enhance energy security, the leaders proposed an energy forum focused on energy efficiency and new technology to help dialogue between producers and consumers. No further details were available.
"We remain positive about the long-term resilience of our economies and future global growth," the leaders said in the statement, noting that growth in emerging economies remained strong.
"However, the world economy is now facing uncertainty and downside risks persist," the statement said.
"We express our strong concern about elevated commodity prices, especially of oil and food, since they pose a serious challenge to stable growth worldwide, have serious implications for the most vulnerable, and increase global inflationary pressure," it said.
G8 members also renewed their pledge, originally made in 2005, to boost aid to Africa by $25 billion a year by 2010. Aid groups had criticized the group for a slow start, saying that only $3 billion of the money had been delivered so far.
A statement said the members "are determined to honor in full their specific commitments," and promised to establish a follow-up mechanism to monitor progress on meeting their goals.
"The target is still there. The ways to achieve this target are maybe not clear enough, but the dedication remains to move in this direction," said Alexander Pankin, a Russian delegation member involved in the talks. "There was no review of this target and no weakening of the position."