Leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations agreed on the first day of their summit to seek an 80 percent cut in their greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 compared with 1990 or more recent years.
The climate accord reached Wednesday in L’Aquila, Italy, also calls for a commitment by the developing world, saying that emerging economies need to undertake quantifiable actions to reach a global reduction of 50 percent in the same time frame.
But the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, or MEF, a multinational framework that groups major polluters, including China and India, has already failed to lay the groundwork for a breakthrough at the working level before its leaders’ meeting Thursday, casting doubt on the effectiveness of the G8 accord.
In their statement, the G8 nations recognized for the first time the need to keep average global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees.
A Foreign Ministry official said Prime Minister Taro Aso explained to his counterparts Japan’s midterm goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2020, calling for all major emitters to pledge to fight global warming.
But chances appeared slim the Major Economies Forum would be able to hammer out long-term targets for greenhouse gas emissions during its leaders’ meeting Thursday on the sidelines of the G8, Japanese diplomatic sources said.
Since Chinese President Hu Jintao returned home early to get a handle on the ethnic riots in the city of Urumqi, discord in the MEF grew more pronounced, casting a shadow over the G8’s efforts on climate change.
Sources said the MEF’s preparatory negotiations failed to bridge the gap between industrialized and developing countries, effectively dashing hopes for a substantial agreement. Emerging economies, particularly China, have said developed countries bear a greater responsibility to curb global warming.
The MEF is working to complete the groundwork for forging a new international carbon-capping framework to succeed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
Nongovernmental organizations criticized the G8’s environmental commitment.
“The world needs emissions cuts of at least 40 percent by 2020 and money to help the poorest countries cope with climate chaos,” Oxfam spokesman Antonio Hill said in a prepared statement.
“Unless the G8 comes up with at least $150 billion to help poor countries adapt to the killer effects of climate change and to stop things getting any worse, there will be no deal in Copenhagen in December,” he said.
The G8 leaders also pondered ways to nurture the “green shoots” of economic recovery being seen in some areas, as well as “exit strategies” for reversing the heavy fiscal stimulus employed by many countries to revive their economies.
The G8 statement said risk and uncertainty remain in economic and financial stability, and exit strategies will “vary from country to country depending on domestic economic conditions and public finances.”
“The current financial and economic crisis has reinforced the need generally for cooperation among key economies,” the statement said, endorsing the continued involvement of emerging economies, namely China and India, in the G8 dialogue.
According to Japanese officials, Prime Minister Aso told his counterparts that Tokyo applied stimulus packages of unprecedented scale. Aso stressed the value of discussing mid- and long-term plans against the economic slump, the officials said.
The G8 leaders also agreed to commit to the Lecce framework, which implements new regulations for transparent global financing, as well as the need to stave off global unemployment and a rapid conclusion to the Doha Round of world trade talks.
Domestic unrest in Iran and North Korea’s nuclear threat were at the top of the list during the working-dinner session focusing on political matters.
“Member countries unanimously agreed that North Korea’s nuclear program is not a concern to Asia only,” Foreign Ministry officials said in a statement, adding that the G8 agreed Pyongyang’s provocative acts must be condemned in the strongest terms.
The G8 called on the international community to take concrete steps against the country based on a new U.N. resolution, they said.
G8 leaders also expressed concern about Iran’s controversial nuclear program and the proliferation risks it poses and noted their continued commitment to seeking a diplomatic solution to the issue.
The leaders said they were “seriously concerned” about the postelectoral situation there, including the loss of life, and called the detention of journalists “unacceptable.”
In addition, the G8 pledged to work together with Pakistan and Afghanistan, saying it stands with the former in its fight against terrorists while urging the latter to ensure a credible election outcome in August to pick a new leader.
Aso’s concern over North Korea’s abductions was met with grave interest, according to the Japanese officials, with the G8 saying in its statement that the North “must take prompt actions to address the concerns of the international community on humanitarian matters, including the abduction issue.”
Talks on denuclearization and nonproliferation centered on Tuesday’s agreement between the U.S. and Russia to reduce their nuclear arsenals.
Welcoming the accord, the G8 said it intends to “seize current opportunities and the new momentum” to strengthen their common nonproliferation and disarmament goals and called on others to take steps toward these ends while ensuring greater transparency.
“We are all committed to seeking a safer world for all and to creating conditions for a world without nuclear weapons, in accordance with the goals of” the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the G8 said, echoing the vision Obama advocated in Prague in April. Half of the G8 nations possess nuclear weapons.
They will hold an expanded meeting together with emerging economies Thursday and conclude Friday after discussing aid for Africa.
Information from Kyodo added