G-8 as climate change forum: baby steps
Leaders agreed that warming must be stopped, but few specifics were reached on how to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
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While that is seen as a significant step forward, there was no agreement yet on specific short-term moves to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050 – something insiders considered politically unrealistic ahead of the meeting.
The G-8 "was a giant leap for the US, and one small step for mankind," says Bastian Hermisson of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Germany, a think tank aligned with the Green Party, in describing US climate policy shift from the Bush to Obama administrations. At the G-8 last year in Japan, after many years of disagreement with global warming initiatives, dating to the Kyoto Protocols, and with much consternation in European states – the Bush White House agreed on a 50 percent reduction in gases by 2050. [EDITOR'S NOTE: In Japan last year, the US did not agree to a specific base year from which to make a 50 percent reduction.]
The G-8 summit of the largest industrial nations, often focuses on economic issues, and the first day there was discussion of the global recession. But by Thursday, this G-8 (joined by five key emerging nations) was being described as an important forum for climate change. Still, the world's leaders are leaving much to be decided at a September G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh, and a major climate conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, at year's end.
The climate issue came sharply into focus after the White House invited China, India, South Africa, Brazil, and Mexico to participate in order to ramp up collaboration on an ambitious and elusive effort to tackle one of the globe's top problems.