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Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Toyako
© dpa
Climate change, rising prices at G-8 summit

July 07, 2008

The leaders from the world's seven leading industrial countries and Russia meet from 7th – 9th July 2008 at the G-8 summit on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. At the centre of talks during the three-day summit at the Toyako resort will be global warming and a stagnating global economy that is being further weakened by turbulent financial markets and fast rising commodity prices.

In pre-summit talks, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said he and US President George W. Bush agreed that urgent efforts are needed to tackle surging oil and food prices. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the G-8 leaders would agree on steps to stem the soaring price of food and to guarantee supplies.

Ahead of the summit, German government officials indicated that the major developing countries are being drawn into climate-control policies through a process initiated in 2007 during the German presidency of the Group of Eight. The Heiligendamm Process, under which G8 members meet regularly with the five-strong Outreach Group -- Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa -- had shown progress over the past year, German government sources said on Thursday, 3rd July.

Noting that the United States had declined to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions precisely because major developing countries, particularly China and India, were freed from its obligations, they said these countries were now being drawn into global climate change initiatives.

Divvying up climate responsibility

The Outreach Five, together with Australia, Indonesia and Korea, join G8 members in a meeting on climate change at the Tokyo summit. German official sources indicated the final declaration would refer to a "common but differentiated responsibility" in this regard. The Outreach Five group was established at the British G8 summit at Gleneagles in 2005, its members meeting irregularly with G8 members. The Heiligendamm Process put these meetings on a more regular and formal footing.

On the eve of his departure for Japan, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he would present India’s perspectives on a wide range of global issues, and in particular, highlight the impact of the sharp rise in fuel prices on the global economy and the need for joint action by both producing and consuming nations.

He emphasised India’s belief that climate change, energy security and food security are interlinked, and require an integrated approach. Manmohan Singh referred to the recently released National Action Plan on Climate Change, which underscores India’s commitment to address the challenge of climate change, and outlines concrete steps to meet this challenge.

At last year's G8 summit in Germany, leaders from the US, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia reached agreement on considering a goal to halve global emissions by 2050. In June 2008 the German cabinet approved the second phase of a major energy-saving and climate-protection package aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent of 1990 levels by 2020.

Four days prior to the G8 summit environmental group WWF and international financial services provider Allianz released the ‘G8 Climate Scorecards’ study on quantitative indicators such as emissions trends since 1990 and progress toward each country’s emissions target under the Kyoto Protocol. According to the report Britain leads the race at the top of the rankings table, slightly ahead of France and Germany. Germany performs best on renewable energy, though it has so far failed to take a clear stance against coal-powered plants.

The report also analysed energy policies of the five emerging economies of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa, but the countries aren't part of the ranking because their records can't be measured the same way as those of industrialised nations. The report urges G8 leaders to commit to a binding long-term target for emission reductions of 80 percent by 2050, and as close as possible to 40 percent by 2020.

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© Deutsche Welle, German Information Centre New Delhi
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