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G-8 OKs Plan to Halve Global Emissions by 2050

In their meeting in Toyako, Japan, leaders from Britain,
Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Russia and the United States resumed discussion
of global emissions goals that were the focus of last year’s G-8 summit in
Heiligendamm, Germany.

European Commission President Jose Barroso praised the agreement, calling it
“a strong signal to citizens around the world,” according to the New
York Times.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the target was “a significant step
forward from Heiligendamm.”

“This means that the international community will no
longer get off the hook,” she said, according to Thompson Financial News.

During last year’s summit, the 2050 target was discussed and “seriously
considered,” but never negotiated.

Environmentalists, however, are disappointed with the group’s agreement. Phil
Clapp of the Pew Environmental group, an organization monitoring the summit
talks, said the goals were actually quite weak, the New York Times reported.

“The science shows that we have to reduce 80 to 90 percent from current
levels to avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” Clapp said.

Pembina Institute policy analyst Clare Demerse called the agreement “a
baby step” at best, according to the Toronto Star.

“The world was looking for leadership from these countries and was hoping
to see a breakthrough,” she said. “But we saw a real lack of

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was optimistic but agreed that
“there’s a still a lot of difficult things to do,” the Toronto Star

President Bush celebrated his own achievement in involving the world’s highest
emitters of harmful gases into the conversation on climate change. The group
meets with the “Outreach Five” leaders of developing nations —
including India and China — Wednesday to continue talks.

Both China and India refused to commit to emissions targets “until G-8
countries lead the way,” according to the Ottawa Citizen.

While the 2050 target was established in Tuesday’s meeting, more specific and
shorter-term goals will be worked out in the coming days and months leading up
to a binding international treaty to be developed in Copenhagen in 2009.

“The G-8 will implement aggressive midterm total emission reduction
targets on a country-by-country basis,” Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo
Fukuda, the summit’s host, told the Associated Press.

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