G8 renew pledges on climate change

No definite emissions targets emerged from the summit Copyright: USGS

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The leaders of the world’s leading developed and developing countries have taken tentative steps towards action on climate change at this year’s G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany.

In a joint statement released today (8 June), the G8+5 countries — including Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa — reaffirmed their commitment to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its objectives of mitigating and adapting to climate change.

The statement said the objectives would be met “in accordance with our common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities”.

No targets for reducing carbon emissions or temperature changes were announced. Instead leaders agreed to “stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. Before the summit, China and India were reportedly reluctant to agree to mandatory caps on carbon emissions (see China rejects emissions caps in climate plan)

The means for adapting to climate change, along with “enhanced technology cooperation and financing” will be included in a proposed “future agreement,” said the statement.

Leaders also promised to cooperate further in ensuring secure and affordable supplies of energy, and to improve energy efficiency of fossil fuels and to increase use of clean and renewable energy sources.

The sentiments echo those of a statement released yesterday (7 June) in which leaders of the G8 countries agreed to “consider seriously the decisions made by the European Union, Canada and Japan, which include at least a halving of global emissions by 2050”.

Tackling climate change is a shared responsibility of all, they say. It can and “must be undertaken in a way that supports growth in developing, emerging and industrialised economies, while avoiding economic distortions”.

Ahead of the meeting, US president George Bush had proposed the establishment of separate climate change negotiations. His signing of the deal was therefore seen by many as progress towards international agreement.

In a separate report, the G8 leaders promised to give US$60 billion in aid to Africa to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis over “the coming years”. The G8 say they will work in collaboration with African governments to improve public health systems and fund the prevention, treatment and care of the three diseases.

But many aid organisations have expressed disappointment with this figure, claiming that only US$3 billion of the money is newly pledged.