The Group of Eight summit bowed to U.S. pressure on Friday by approving a declaration on climate change that avoided taking any concrete steps to fight global warming, such as setting targets or timetables for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The summit declined to embrace Prime Minister Tony Blair’s proposal for promises of sharp reductions of pollutants that scientists say cause global warming.
It also failed to resolve a long-standing impasse over the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which the Bush administration has rejected but which the other G-8 members have ratified, binding them to reduction targets that are now in effect.
President Bush has questioned the existence of global warming, saying the protocol would have “wrecked” the U.S. economy. He objects to the fact that large developing nations such as China and India are exempt from it.
Blair, however, won a compromise at the G-8 summit by getting its members to agree to a new round of international talks on climate change _ to be held in Britain in November _ that will include wealthy nations and emerging economies.
French President Jacques Chirac, who has called global warming “a terribly menacing reality,” said Friday that the G-8 leaders had achieved substantial results and that the agreement on climate change would ensure “indispensable dialogue” among nations.
But many environmental groups called the summit a failure on global warming and blamed it on the Bush administration.
“The G-8 leaders did not agree on a single concrete action to address climate change,” said Philip E. Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust. “President Bush did not budge one inch from the intransigent position he has taken on global warming … and the White House staff worked nonstop for months to water any possible deal down.”
Greenpeace said the G-8 communique “highlights the divisions between President Bush and the rest of the world on tackling climate change.”
In his final speech at the summit, Blair announced that the G-8 members and other nations, including five of the world’s largest emerging economies _ China, Brazil, India, Mexico and South Africa _ had agreed to work together to deal with the issue of global warming. He said they would meet on Nov. 1 in Britain to discuss the effort to “slow down and then in time reverse the rise in harmful greenhouse gas emissions.”
On Thursday those five countries, which all attended the summit, issued a joint statement endorsing the Kyoto Protocol and urging developed countries such as the United States to “take the lead in international action to combat climate change by fully implementing their obligations of reducing emissions.”
Blair acknowledged the summit had had no chance of resolving the disagreement within the G-8 over Kyoto or renegotiating a set of new targets for greenhouse gas emissions. But he said the summit had effectively agreed that global warming is an urgent problem and that human activity is contributing to it.
Blair said the agreement to hold a new round of talks indicates “a firm consensus that this problem needs to be tackled now” in a dialogue that includes a wide range of countries.
© 2005 The Associated Press