Today's Paper

Differences persist on response to climate change

K.Venugopal

G8 to stick to the goal of reducing global emissions by 50 per cent by 2050



Contributions from major economies sought

Developed countries must take the lead, says G5



Sapporo: The leaders of the developed and the developing world still do not quite see eye to eye on which countries should be asked to shoulder the challenge of addressing climate change and on the scale of their individual efforts.

At their summit meeting on the picturesque lakeside resort of Toyako in northern Japan, leaders of the Group of Eight industrialised nations, the G8, affirmed that they would stick to the goal of reducing global emissions by 50 per cent by 2050, but insisted that “this global challenge can only be met by a global response, in particular, by the contributions from all major economies.”

That meant “all major economies will need to commit to meaningful mitigation actions to be bound in the international agreement to be negotiated by the end of 2009.”

Ahead of their meeting with the G8 leaders on Wednesday, the leaders of the five Outreach countries, the G5, which includes India, were clear that the developed countries must take the lead in achieving the reduction in emissions as quantified in the Kyoto Protocol, that is at least 25-40 per cent reduction by 2020 and between 80 and 95 per cent reduction by 2050.

The Indian position was articulated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday when he said that while India would not accept targeted reductions in emissions, he could ensure that per capita carbon emissions, which today were 1.2 tonnes against 20 tonnes in the United States, would be no higher than the average of the developed world.

The developing world would like the developed world to finance any mitigation efforts in the developing world. China has proposed that the developed world provide 0.5 per cent of their GDP for climate action in the developing world.

On rising oil prices, leaders of the G8 expressed their “strong concerns” about the sharp rise in prices which they said posed a risk to the global economy.

“Investigate cause”

In a statement issued after their meeting on Tuesday, they said the cause of the increase in oil prices needed to be investigated, welcoming their Finance Ministers’ request to the International Monetary Fund and the International Energy Agency to jointly carry out further analysis of the “real and financial” factors behind the surge.

It was a point that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also had made on Monday as he flew in for the summit meeting.

Hinting that the oil market was not entirely free, they stressed “the importance of energy markets which send undistorted price signals and are free from any political pressure.”

The leaders noted that production and refining capacities should be increased in the short term and asked oil producing countries to ensure “transparent and stable” investment environments conducive to increased production.

On the demand side, they said it was important to improve energy efficiency as well as pursue energy diversification.

They proposed to hold an energy forum that would contribute to a dialogue between producers and consumers as well as training the focus on energy efficiency and new technologies.

On the negotiations to secure agreement in the Doha round of talks at the World Trade Organisation, the G8 leaders said they were determined to work urgently to conclude negotiations and asked all WTO members to make “substantial contributions” so that the modalities for agriculture and non-agriculture market access are established.

Downside risks

They conceded that the world economy was facing uncertainty and that “downside risks” persisted.

While the financial market conditions had “improved somewhat” in the past few months, “serious strains” still existed.

Yet they said they remained “positive about the long-term resilience of our economies and future global economic growth.”

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