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Polluting nations not on board with G-8
Question of the Day
L’AQUILA, Italy | Eight of the world’s top economies, including the United States, pledged Wednesday to slash greenhouse gas emissions but have failed to win the same agreement from a broader group of top polluting nations.
On Iran, the story was similar: Members of the Group of Eight, or G-8, agreed they are getting impatient with Iran’s failure to publicly halt its nuclear weapons program, but the nations stopped short of action, instead saying they will take stock of the situation in September.
The G-8 did condemn North Korea’s belligerence, decried the post-election violence in Iran and blasted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for denying the Holocaust.
“It’s reflective of impatience with Iran. It does say that Iran needs to fulfill its international responsibilities without further delay,” said Denis McDonough, a deputy national security adviser to President Obama.
Mr. McDonough said all eight nations, including Russia, which sometimes backs Iran in disputes, were on board the statement.
Iran and climate change are dominating the discussions at the G-8 in this Italian city, where nearly 300 people were killed in an earthquake three months ago.
On climate change, Mr. Obama, is being tugged one way by domestic concerns and the other way by European leaders and environmentalists. His biggest challenge here will be not to overpromise or underdeliver on what the United States can do to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
The split between the big economies and developing nations could derail sensitive negotiations leading up to a December climate change summit in Copenhagen and, without countries such as China, Brazil and India on board, could prove a stumbling block as the president tries to persuade Congress to enact legislation that would reduce greenhouse gases.
With Mr. Obama’s backing, the United States and the rest of the G-8 set a goal for developed nations to cut their greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050 and called on the entire world to reduce emissions by half by that same year.
But leaders say they won’t be able to get the same agreement out of a broader meeting of 17 nations in the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate on Thursday.
“Brazil and China, who we will be meeting with tomorrow, must accept a number of common commitments because it would be counterproductive were we to implement considerable reduction strategies in Europe, the United States, Canada and Japan, whereas the 5 billion people living in other parts of the world could continue acting as before,” Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told reporters late Wednesday.
Still, the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate will agree that global warming shouldn’t be allowed to exceed 2 degrees Celsius, which was seen as a solid step.
“Having these countries commit to this yardstick is important progress. These countries, which account for 80 percent of global emissions, are pretty significant. So effectively, you have the world committing to an upper limit to temperature which is considered by most scientists to be a minimum threshold,” said Jake Schmidt, international climate policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“It would have been a major step forward to get these countries to commit collectively to the 50 percent target, but given the politics of this issue at this stage, it isn’t a surprising outcome,” he said.
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