Leaders of the world's advanced economies have committed to a long-term
goal of slashing their emissions of carbon blamed for global warming.
Officials say the plan is a first step toward building consensus but
activist groups and at least one African leader say the declaration is
empty. VOA's Kurt Achin has more from northern Japan, where the
leaders are gathering.
After a working lunch of the so-called
"G8" leaders in Toyako, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda announced
a new long-term goal on the issue of global climate change.
He says the G8 countries have agreed to cut their carbon emissions in half by the year 2050.
The goal is the highlight of an 18-point declaration the leaders released during the second day of their three-day summit.
hours, South Africa's environment minister criticized the statement as
an "empty slogan" for its lack of specifics. The statement is also
getting a chilly reception from environmental activists like Ben
Wikler, of the group Avaaz.org.
"The G8 countries blew it," said
Wikler. "The language the G8 countries used to describe their vision
could not have been murkier."
Several key elements of the G8
climate goals have been left open to interpretation by member
countries. The 50-percent reduction is not indexed to any specific
base year. Members can choose to halve their emissions based on this
year's levels, or based on a more ambitious 1990 pollution level.
agreement also leaves out any specific mention of targets for medium or
short-term carbon-emission reductions, instead urging members to
formulate such goals on a nation-by-nation basis.
director-general for Global Issues with Japan's Foreign Ministry,
Ambassador Koji Tsuruoka, briefed reporters on Tuesday's discussion
among the leaders. He says the agreement is designed to be broad, and
"This is more of a political vision," said Tsuruoka. "The G8 as a whole is trying to engage the rest of the world."
the leaders hope to engage major emerging economies like China and
India. Experts fear their booming growth will be accompanied by sharp
rises in carbon emissions. Several G8 leaders, including President
Bush, have said any climate agreement without emerging economies on
board is destined to fail.
G8 leaders say they will discuss the
climate goals with leaders of emerging powers in meetings scheduled for
Wednesday. Their talks are expected to set a framework for a U.N.-led
gathering next year that aims for a global agreement on climate change.