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G8 alone can't set world climate goal: White House

1/07/2008 - 23:05

By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Group of Eight major industrialized countries meeting next week in Japan cannot by themselves set effective long-term world goals on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, the White House said on Tuesday.

"With evidence mounting of rapidly rising emissions from emerging markets, action by the G8 alone would not be effective," said Dan Price, assistant to President George W. Bush for international economic affairs.

"That's why we believe that all major economies and indeed all parties to the UN convention (on climate change) need to be part of the discussion on setting a long-term goal," Price said at a White House briefing.

Price acknowledged long-running international discussions of setting a global target to cut greenhouse emissions by 50 percent by 2050, but stopped short of saying an agreement on this goal was possible at the summit in Hokkaido, Japan.

In addition to meetings with other G8 leaders, there will be gatherings of the U.S.-spurred Major Economies Meeting.

This group includes the rich G8 nations plus emerging economies -- and growing greenhouse gas emitters -- such as China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.

Price said advances in the discussion on a long-range goal to cut emissions "will be reflected among the leaders themselves and no doubt reflected in the declaration next week."

Leaders from the G8 -- Japan, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States -- agreed last year in Heiligendamm, Germany, to seriously consider a global goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2050.

Environmental activists say this year's summit should go farther by endorsing that goal and linking it to bold shorter-term targets for developed countries. Many in the environmental community believe the goal should be an 80-percent reduction in emissions by mid-century.

The clock is ticking for a climate deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. International negotiators at last December's meeting in Bali on climate change agreed to start two years of talks aimed at adopting a new treaty in Copenhagen in late 2009.

The United States has not joined the Kyoto Protocol, saying its requirements to cap the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide would hurt the U.S. economy and give an unfair advantage to fast-developing economies like China and India.

Bush himself has opposed U.S. legislation to set an economy-wide plan to cap carbon dioxide emissions, which are produced by fossil-fueled vehicles and coal-fired power plants, among other sources.

A bill that would have set limits on carbon dioxide emissions died in the Senate last month.

(Editing by Xavier Briand)


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