Greenpeace, others pan G-8 global warming deal
By David Jackson (USA Today) - June 8, 2007
ROSTOCK, Germany — An agreement to curb global warming by the Group of Eight industrialized countries was hailed as “excellent” by one of its authors, but environmentalists dispute the deal’s real impact.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who shepherded the deal as the G-8 summit’s host, said Thursday that the climate-change agreement represented “very great progress and an excellent result.”
President Bush and other G-8 leaders said they are committed to “substantial” cuts by 2050 of greenhouse gas emissions, which are caused by the burning of fuels such as gasoline and coal. But critics note that the deal has no binding caps, only a pledge to “consider seriously” a 50% cut by mid-century.
Greenpeace USA was one of several groups to say the agreement “fails to provide clear targets for how we deal with the threat” of global warming.
Greenpeace and other groups blamed Bush, who has long favored voluntary reductions, for blocking the 50% cut sought by Merkel and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Merkel and Blair also suggested a target of keeping global temperature increases to less than 2 degrees Celsius by 2050, which is not part of the deal.
Still, both Merkel and Blair praised the G-8 statement as a step forward. “We agreed that we need reduction goals, and obligatory reduction goals,” Merkel told reporters.
Bush, after meeting with Blair privately, said the United States is “deadly earnest” about dealing with global warming, and “will be actively involved.”
G-8 members supported Bush’s idea of holding a conference of the 15 countries that produce the most greenhouse gases. Those polluters would include China and India, which Bush said must be part of any global plan on climate change.
The 15 countries would develop their own climate-change plans, as well as a “global framework,” by the end of 2008, according to the G-8 agreement. A broader deal would emerge by the end of 2009, after Bush leaves office.
The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington, called Bush “the skunk at the garden party” for rejecting the Merkel-Blair targets. Daniel Weiss, the center’s director of climate strategy, said Bush’s global warming plan amounts to “more talk, less treatment.”
The G-8 members did support Merkel’s demand that countries endorse the United Nations framework for climate-change talks. That framework begins with a December meeting of environmental ministers.
The U.N. framework is a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty that expires in 2012. The United States refused to ratify the treaty, in part because it did not apply to China and India.
David McCormick, deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, said the G-8 recognizes that climate-change policy has to be developed so it does not hurt energy security or economic growth. He said the Bush administration also wants to promote energy efficiency, such as alternative fuel sources. “The president absolutely supports the development of a global goal … by the end of 2008,” McCormick said.