07 June 2007

Global Climate Change: Mixed Reviews for G8 Agreement

The Group of Eight (G8) came to an unexpected agreement on a plan to seek substantial cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and to launch talks in Bali later this year. The focus of the Bali talks will be to reach a new, global agreement by 2009, in an effort to be led by the UN.

"We have a clear starting moment and a clear finish," said Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat in Bonn, according to a Reuters report. De Boer also said that other countries, chiefly China and India, would also have to agree to come to the table in Bali.

De Boer praised US President George Bush for his announcement last week, in which he pledged to seek cuts in emissions and convene talks among top emitters. De Boer's comments came despite Bush's objection to a 50 percent cut in global emissions below 1990 levels by 2050.

"I think that by doing what he has done the president has put himself and his country back in a leadership position," de Boer told Reuters.

Not everyone was happy with the outcome in Germany this week. Environmentalists slammed the agreement, claiming it was "not worth the paper it was written on." Their main objection was the lack of targets identified in the agreement.

"In setting a global goal for emissions reductions in the process we have agreed today involving all major emitters, we will consider seriously the decisions made by the European Union, Canada and Japan which include at least a halving of global emissions by 2050," said the G8 declaration.

According to an article in The Guardian, "the G8 countries, which make up 13% of the world's population, are responsible for around 43% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared the agreement a victory in Europe's push to secure a deal on climate change. She told sources familiar with the situation that the agreement represents "substantial cuts" in greenhouse gas emissions.

But environmentalists and extreme greens called the agreement "inadequate," "not enough," and yet another empty promise.

Sources familiar with the situation called the agreement "better than expected," considering the Bush administration's objections to specific targets proposed by some of the G8 countries.

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