Despite Japan’s pledge to halve global emissions by 2050, it still emits more carbon dioxide than entire Africa.
|The summit has brought together leaders of some of the world’s richest nations [AFP]|
The Group of Eight (G8) nations have said they want to work with the nearly 200 states involved in UN climate change talks to adopt a goal of at least halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The final climate change statement approved by the G8 at a summit in northern Japan on Tuesday also said mid-term targets would be needed to achieve the shared goal by mid-century, but did not set any.
The statement puts the focus of fighting global warming on UN-led talks, which are set to conclude in Copenhagen in December 2009, and glosses over differences inside the G8 itself.
Last year, the G8 – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US – agreed merely to “seriously consider” a goal of halving global emissions by 2050.
The EU and Japan had been pressing for this year’s summit to go beyond that.
Yasuo Fukuda, the Japanese prime minister, has made climate change the centrepiece of the three-day talks at a mountain-top hotel in Toyako, on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.
Speaking on Tuesday, he said: “By 2050, the G8 leaders have agreed to cut global emissions by at least 50 per cent, and today we have agreed to work towards this goal. This goal is appropriate and necessary.”
|Bush wants China and India to curb greenhouse gas emissions [Reuters]|
But the careful wording of the G8’s agreement is unlikely to satisfy those seeking much more specific targets.
G8 leaders agreed to set what Fukuda described as “aggressive” mid-term targets for reducing emissions.
However, each nation will be allowed the freedom to set its emissions targets to take into account the differences between major developed economies and developing economies.
“Each of us will implement ambitious economy-wide mid-term goals in order to achieve absolute emissions reductions,” the leaders said.
George Bush, the US president, had said he will not back a numerical target until big polluters such as China and India agree to binding commitments to curb their carbon pollution.
But China and India say it is up to the US to lead by example and commit to targets for change.
Antonio Hill, climate change policy expert for aid group Oxfam, told Al Jazeera the measures were “too little too late”.
“Its a baby step relative to what they took last year, but its far short of what needs to be taken,” he said.
Activists contend real progress towards battling climate change will not made until new US president takes office next year.
“It’s a little bit of a kabuki play,” Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said.
“Everyone is just waiting for the next president to see how that changes things.”
World food and fuel prices were other topics high on the G8’s agenda.
A World Bank study issued last week said up to 105 million people could drop below the poverty line due to the leap in food prices, including 30 million in Africa.
|African leaders have urged the G8 to deliver on aid commitments [EPA]|
In a statement on Tuesday, G8 leaders expressed strong concern about the sky-high food and oil prices, which they said posed risks for a global economy under serious financial strain.
They urged countries with sufficient food stocks to make available a part of their surplus for countries in need.
The leaders also agreed to bring major oil producers and consumers together in a new forum to discuss energy security.
African leaders had on Monday pressed G8 leaders to deliver on commitments made three years ago to double their aid to Africa.
In one of the policy statements issued on Tuesday, the G8 reaffirmed aid targets pledged at the 2005 Gleneagles summit, where they had vowed to raise annual levels of aid by $50bn by 2010, $25bn of that for Africa.
Aid workers and NGOs have expressed concern about those pledges, saying donor countries might fail to meet their promises, which are not legally binding and are hard to track in actual spending.