US agrees landmark pledge to slash emissions
G8 commits to cutting carbon output by 80% – and tells China and India to follow suit
The world's richest nations agreed last night to cut their carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 in a dramatic attempt to secure a new global deal to combat climate change.
Leaders of the G8 group of countries also agreed to set a limit of C on global temperature rises, the first time they have imposed such a ceiling. In return, they urged developing countries including China and India to cut their emissions by 50 per cent over the same period.
President Barack Obama cleared the way for what Gordon Brown called an "historic agreement" at the G8 summit in Italy by signing the US up to a firm emissions target for the first time – a complete contrast to the intransigence of his predecessor, George Bush. The G8 move is designed to revitalise United Nations-led talks on a global "son of Kyoto" agreement, which reach a climax in Copenhagen in December.
In talks in L'Aquila today, President Obama will try to persuade nine non-G8 nations, including China and India, to "jump together" with the G8 countries by agreeing to halve their emissions by 2050.
But an immediate breakthrough in today's 17-nation negotiations is unlikely. The Chinese President, Hu Jintao, returned home from Italy abruptly after ethnic tensions increased in China's western Xinjiang territory. The developing nations want firm guarantees of subsidies from the rich nations' club to help them meet the cost of converting their industries to low-carbon technology. They also want the G8 members to be more specific about their interim targets for reducing emissions by 2020.
Another potential stumbling block is the baseline on which the G8's emissions cuts will be calculated. Their declaration left this unclear, prompting critics to describe it as a fudge. Britain backs a 1990 start date but the US favours a later one – meaning it would have to make a smaller reduction. However, officials hope the G8's gesture will draw developing nations into serious and ultimately successful negotiations by December. One said: "There's a long way to go yet. There will be setbacks along the way. But we now have a decent chance of getting there."
Mr Brown said: "For the first time the G8 has agreed [on] what I believe are vital decisions that take us on the road to Copenhagen and change the way we look at energy policy in the future. We have agreed for the first time that average global temperatures must rise by no more than C. That is an historic agreement. We have agreed as the G8 that we want to cut our emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 and we believe that this will allow the world to reduce its emissions by 50 per cent."
The Prime Minister has proposed a $100bn global fund to ease the path to a deal by helping developing countries become more energy efficient. There was no agreement on that last night, while some non-G8 members want a bigger fund.
José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, said: "We are not yet where we would like to be but I think things are [moving] in the right direction for Copenhagen."
But the breakthrough failed to satisfy green groups. While welcoming the G8's move, they criticised the group for failing to produce targets for 2020.
Antonio Hill, a spokesman for the charity Oxfam, said: "The G8 might have agreed to avoid cooking the planet by more than C, but they made no attempt to turn down the heat any time soon. 2050 is too far off to matter – poor people are being hit today. We must see emissions cuts of at least 40 per cent by 2020 and G8 money to help the poorest countries cope with climate chaos."
Tobias Muenchmeyer, Greenpeace International's political adviser, said: "While agreeing to keep temperature rise to below C without a clear plan, money or targets on how to do this, the G8 leaders will not have helped to break the deadlock in the UN climate negotiations."
Mr Brown scored a victory over the summit host Silvio Berlusconi by securing a shake-up of the G8's system of aid to the world's poorest nations to stop them backsliding on their promises. With Italy and France unlikely to deliver on pledges they made at the Gleneagles summit four years ago, Mr Brown and Mr Obama joined forces to try to prevent a repeat of the failure.
From now on, the G8 club will publish annual progress reports on the aid given by its members. A review next year, by when the Gleneagles promises were due to be kept, will lead to a "Gleaneagles 2" process so that the G8 can "catch up" by 2015, when the landmark Millennium Development Goals are due to be met. The Italian Prime Minister resisted Mr Brown's move for greater accountability over G8 aid commitments, but Japan and Canada joined the US to ensure that Mr Berlusconi was outmanoeuvred.
sportLiverpool 5 Norwich City 1: Uruguayan striker has now scored 11 league goals against the club
arts + entsOlivier-nominated actor and singer is set to star in Lloyd Webber's musical about the Profumo affair
filmWith more than 70 per cent of early films lost, archivists are scouring the world to preserve the precious examples that remain
sportUnder-10s football coach sacked for telling parents he was 'only interested in winning'
techA piece of new hi-tech kit aims to get us scribbling again
indybestMake getting out of the wrong side of bed on cold winter mornings a thing of the past with our selection of night-time covers
life + styleClarissa Baldwin is the brains behind the slogan 'A Dog is for Life not just for Christmas'
Work until you’re 70: Chancellor George Osborne accused of ‘living in fantasy land’ over Autumn Statement pension reforms
What made Charles Saatchi grab my throat outside Scott's, by Nigella Lawson - as she accuses him of threatening to 'destroy' her with drug claims
Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
‘Put it in my mouth’: Viewers outraged by apparent reference to oral sex in VIP e-cig advert
Paul Walker death: Eight-year-old son of Porsche driver Roger Rodas tried to rescue his father
- 1 The hardwired difference between male and female brains could explain why men are 'better at map reading'
- 2 Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
- 3 A forgotten episode in Russian history leaves links with the Philippines
- 4 Syrian rebels consider joining forces with regime troops to fight al-Qa’ida
- 5 ‘Put it in my mouth’: Viewers outraged by apparent reference to oral sex in VIP e-cig advert
£50000 - £70000 per annum + London: Harrington Starr: Senior Automation QA Eng...
£35000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits : Harrington Starr: SQL 2008 R2/2012 Deve...
£38000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Creative Audit Se...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, P...