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Post-Kyoto agreement is subject of G8 debate

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Bush and Merkel met yesterday at the Kempinski Grand Hotel in Heiligendamm.

Leaders from the 7 richest industrialised countries and Russia will have to deal with climate issues at the 33rd G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany. While France and Germany are calling for quantifiable greenhouse gas emission cuts, the U.S. and Japan believe that growing economies such as India and China would need to join in on such efforts.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G8 summit yesterday said the two main topics were climate change and combating poverty in Africa. She said her first talks with president Bush were good, and added: "I trust that we will work out joint positions on that." Bush acknowledged that he has "strong desire to work ... on a post-Kyoto agreement."

Cquote1.svg We all can make major strides, and yet there won't be a reduction until China and India are participants Cquote2.svg

United States President, George W. Bush

Merkel had proposed a 50% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, helping to keep global temperature rise to no more than 3.6°C. White House adviser James Connaughton however said that "At this point in time we are not prepared to adopt that proposal."

President George W. Bush finds himself in a position between the pressure from France and Germany, but on the other hand he wants to urge countries like India and China to join climate efforts. He told reporters that: "The United States can serve as a bridge between some nations who believe that now is the time to come up with a set goal … and those who are reluctant to participate in the dialogue. ... We all can make major strides, and yet there won't be a reduction until China and India are participants."

President Bush will defend his plan today to organise a separate conference on global warming with the 15 biggest polluters to set their own goals, and to rely on technological innovations to achieve part of the emission targets. When asked about the U.S. plans, Merkel said in a television interview that she didn't expect the differences to disappear overnight. At the G8 summit she said stated: "I think we all know that the goals agreed by the European Union cannot be accepted by the entire world."

Thousands of protesters have gathered in Heiligendamm to show their disagreement with the plans of Shinzo Abe (Japan), Tony Blair (U.K.), George Bush (U.S.), Angela Merkel (Germany), Nicolas Sarkozy (France), Romano Prodi (Italy), Vladimir Putin (Russia) and Stephen Harper (Canada) (Oxfam protesters dressed as and wearing masks of the G8 leaders, from left to right).
Image: Craig Owen/Oxfam.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters: "On climate change ...We agreed that Japan and the United States would be working together for the creation of an effective framework which is flexible, and that we would be cooperating to achieve that end in the future."

The new President of France Nicolas Sarkozy wants the U.S. to increase their efforts on climate issues. He told reporters yesterday: "We need quantifiable targets in the final text. It is an extremely important point and I intend to talk to the president of the United States about it as early as this evening. ... President Bush has made a first effort, but we need to set ourselves targets to clearly show the determination of the G-8 to act and to obtain results... If we don't act now, it will be too late to avoid a disaster. It will cost less than if we wait."

The G8 Summit was preceded by mass demonstrations, such as the one in Rostock, where several hundred protesters were arrested.
Image: Salvatore Barbera.

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin called the U.S. plans to deal with global warming "very pragmatic and interesting." Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi recognised that "the American president has made comments in the last few days that have been more open than in the past." Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair also welcomed the U.S. engagement for "substantial" reductions, which the U.S. is aiming for, according to a recent U.S. draft G8 document.

President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso at the G8 summit said he thought the E.U. was taking a leading role in the climate debate, also by influencing the position of countries like the U.S. and China. He believes a global agreement to follow Kyoto is needed, possibly by 2009. He stressed that, as this was a problem created by all nations, effecting all, it had to be tackled within the UN-framework, and that agreements made by only a number of states would fall short of what is needed. He also doubted the possibility that hard numbers on emissions cuts would result from this summit.

Other topics at the G8 Summit will be development in Africa (including the fight against AIDS and malaria), the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization, and the U.S. plans to set up a missile defence shield in Europe.

The U.S. is the only G8 country that has not ratified the Kyoto protocol, which expires in 2012.

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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.