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The leaders of the 'G8', including US president George W. Bush, have signed a communiqué agreeing that human activity is causing climate change. They will meet again in November with representatives of "emerging economies", to discuss future climate change policies.

At a press conference at the close of the G8 summit in Gleneagles this afternoon (8 July), UK prime minister Tony Blair emphasised the importance of drawing the United States together with large developing countries such as China and India into discussions on how international policy will address climate change after 2012, when the Kyoto protocol expires.

The United States has not signed the protocol, partly because it is concerned that the document sets no targets for developing countries to limit their greenhouse gas emissions.

The United States is particularly worried about growing economies, such as India and China, whose emissions are high and expected to rise considerably. In return, developing countries maintain that developed countries must bear the bulk of responsibility for climate change, as they are responsible for most of the historical greenhouse gas emissions.

"We were never going to re-negotiate Kyoto," said Blair, referring to the targets of the G8 summit.

Until now, the United States also disagreed with the scientific consensus that climate change exists, and is being caused by human activity. In this respect, the summit has delivered a breakthrough.

"If it is impossible to bring [the United States] into the consensus on tackling the issue of climate change we will never ensure that the huge emerging economies, particularly India and China […] are part of the dialogue," said Blair.

He went on to say that the meeting had achieved a "pathway back into international consensus", and a "pathway to a new dialogue when Kyoto ends".

The leaders of the G8 also released today an agreed strategy to tackle climate change. Several clauses in the plan indicate their intent to support research and development on climate change — including on renewable energies and carbon dioxide storage — in developing countries.

"The commitment of the leaders of the G8 to act now on climate change and to vigorously address the climate-energy-sustainable development interface will inspire current and future intergovernmental action," said Joke Waller-Hunter, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in response to the G8's statement on climate change.

Link to the G8 communiqué