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Leaders from the G8 countries have pledged to halve carbon emissions by 2050, but the five major emerging economies (or +5) countries refused to agree to the goal until more concrete targets are set.

In a statement released yesterday (9 July) at the end of the G8 summit in Hokkaido, Japan, the G8 leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the UN goal of achieving at least a 50 per cent reduction of global emissions by 2050.

The pledge echoed agreements made last year (see G8 renew pledges on climate change), but did not confirm the date from which these reductions would be measured. The UN standard is to measure emissions from 1990 levels, but Japan announced that its cuts would be measured from 2005 levels, which experts say make them less significant.

No interim targets for emissions cuts were agreed by leaders and, according to officials, none will be until next year's G8 meeting in Italy.

The +5 countries — Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa — say that developed nations should agree to an interim target of a 25–40 per cent cut below 1990 levels by 2020.

In a separate statement, also released yesterday, the five countries urged developed nations to cut their carbon emissions by more than 80 per cent by 2050. They refused to halve emissions in their own countries until rich nations take bigger steps to reduce pollution.

Prior to the summit, developed and developing world scientists called for G8+5 leaders to commit to carbon capture technology as a means for tackling emissions (see Science academies urge G8 commitment to carbon storage).

In a statement, the G8 announced that they had agreed to "establish an international initiative with the support of the International Energy Agency to develop roadmaps for innovative technologies and cooperate upon existing and new partnerships, including carbon capture and storage".

They said they support the launching of 20 large-scale carbon capture and storage demonstration projects globally by 2010, and hope to begin broad deployment of the technology by 2020.

The leaders stated, "We are committed to increasing investment in both basic and applied environmental and clean energy technology research and development… G8 members have so far pledged over the next several years over US$10 billion annually in direct government-funded R&D."

Leaders also made a firm commitment to "continuing research and development of second generation biofuel technologies".

They also pledged to accelerate efforts for collecting Earth observation data, with support for capacity building in monitoring for developing countries.

Elsewhere, the G8 also agreed to provide US$60 billion dollars over the next five years to fight infectious diseases and strengthen health globally.

Link to final G8 statement

Link to G8 statement on environment and climate change