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G8 leaders endorse fifty percent emmisions cut, but with no specific targets

The 2008 G8 Summit has ended with an agreement among the principals to endorse cutting greenhouse gas emissions fifty percent by 2050. Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, host of the meeting, added a request that countries reduce their mid-term greenhouse gas emissions prior to standards being set.

The G8 rich countries said on Tuesday they want to work with the nearly 200 states involved in U.N. climate change talks to adopt a goal of at least halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The final climate communique agreed by the Group of Eight leaders at a summit in northern Japan also said mid-term goals would be needed to achieve the shared goal for 2050, but gave no numerical targets.

This puts the adaptation of actual standards within the United Nations' effort to construct a follow-up to the Kyoto Accord,the ongoing negotiations of which are set to conclude in December, 2009 at Copenhagen.

The G8 endorseme
nt follows a letter sent to the Japanese Prime Minister by NASA's James Hansen, citing new data that showed the climate had exceeded safe C02 levels (safe maximum at 350 ppm; current level is at 385 ppm) and urging the Prime Minister Fukuda to take the lead at the G8 to set specific targets. The language of the G8 statement was worded so as not to require specific targets, which will doubtless raise questions among both environmentalists and businesses that have been asking for those targets in an effort to effectively plan for future production.

The lack of specific wording was seen as a result of U.S. resistanc
e:
U.S. President George W. Bush has insisted that Washington cannot agree to binding targets unless big polluters such as China and India rein in their emissions as well.
India and China are polluters, a problem exacerbated by China's growing usage of coal fired plants and both countrys' increasing thirst for oil (charts by Dr. James Hansen, NASA):

The picture becomes more G8 centric with per capita C02 emissions by country, reflecting the individual carbon footprint within each population:



The G8 consists of the eight richest industrialized nations:

  • Flag of Canada Canada - Stephen Harper, Prime Minister
  • Flag of France France - Nicolas Sarkozy, President
  • Flag of Germany Germany - Angela Merkel, Chancellor
  • Flag of Italy Italy - Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister
  • Flag of Japan Japan - Yasuo Fukuda, Prime Minister
  • Flag of Russia Russia - Dmitry Medvedev, President
  • Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom - Gordon Brown, Prime Minister
  • Flag of the United States United States - George W. Bush, President

Missing from the list, as noted by the U.S., are China and India, two other polluters President Bush has presented as a sticking point for a G8 agreement on specific targets. Both the EU and Japan had been pressing the G8 to accept the targets without them. The agreement, which falls short of that request, is seen as an improvement from last year's summit, where the only commitment was to "consider" climate targets, and, as such, paves the way for the U.N. to complete its negotiations toward a resolution at Copenhagen.

This is essential, as reported on The Environmentalist in October, 2007, new data has been released to both confirm that the oceans are losing their ability to absorb excess C02 and, as mentioned above, to show the C02 atmospheric limit has been exceeded.

It is a new climate reality.

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