Obama says still time for climate deal this year

Author: Reuters

On the first day of the meeting in L’Aquila in Italy, the G8 failed to get
China and India to accept the goal of halving emissions of greenhouse gases
by 2050.

Obama, hoping to make his mark on his first Group of Eight summit by chairing
a meeting of rich and emerging powers on the environment, said progress
could still be made before talks on a new UN climate change treaty in
Copenhagen in December.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama told Brazil’s President Luiz
Inacio Lula da Silva that “there was still time in which they could close
the gap on that disagreement in time for that important (meeting)”.

Obama was due to chair the 17-member Major Economies Forum (MEF), which was
likely to agree to try to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6
Fahrenheit) versus pre-industrial levels but not to agree on the scale of
emission cuts.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said progress on climate change at the G8 was
so far “not enough”.

“This is politically and morally (an) imperative and historic responsibility
… for the future of humanity, even for the future of the planet Earth,”
the U.N. chief said.

Progress was hampered by the absence of Chinese President Hu Jintao, who left
L’Aquila to attend to ethnic clashes in China’s northwest that have killed
156 people.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he hoped the temperature target would be
agree by “all the countries around the table today” – the United States,
Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Russia, plus emerging
powers like China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia and Mexico.

But one G8 source said it was “not realistic” to expect a deal on emissions.
India said developing countries first wanted to see rich nation plans to
provide financing to help them cope with ever more floods, heatwaves, storms
and rising sea levels. They also want to see rich nations make deeper cuts
by 2020.

Temperatures have already risen by about 0.7 Celsius since the Industrial
Revolution ushered in widespread use of fossil fuels. Italy’s prime minister
said everyone should share the burden of tackling the problem.

“It would not be productive if European countries, Japan, the United States
and Canada accepted cuts that are economically damaging while more than 5
billion people in other countries carried on as before,” Prime Minister
Silvio Berlusconi said.

The fragile state of the world economy dominated the first day of the G8
summit, with rich nations acknowledging there were still significant risks
to financial stability.

Ahead of today’s meeting, emerging nations complained that they are suffering
heavily from a crisis that was not of their making.

China, India and Brazil have all questioned whether the world should start
seeking a new global reserve currency as an alternative to the dollar. They
have said they may raise this today after discussing it amongst themselves
yesterday.

Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said developing economies in the
so-called “G5” had suggested using alternative currencies to settle trade
among themselves. The debate is very sensitive in financial markets, which
are wary of risks to US asset values, and is unlikely to progress far in
L’Aquila.

The G8 and G5 did hope for progress on the stalled Doha trade talks, with
agreement possible on concluding them by 2010. Launched in 2001 to help poor
countries prosper, the Doha round has stumbled on proposed tariff and
subsidy cuts.

The G5 said it was committed to address outstanding problems on Doha which
would provide “a major stimulus to the restoration of confidence in world
markets”. But it urged rich nations to tear down trade barriers and restore
credit to poor countries.

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