Tokyo: Japan’s prime minister damped expectations that the group of eight, or G-8, industrial powers will set a binding target for cutting greenhouse gas pollution amid opposition from US President George W. Bush.
Bush, attending his last G-8 summit, is resisting pressure to sign on to the goal of halving carbon emissions by 2050 unless China and India, two of the world’s leading polluters, make the same commitment.
“Whether the G-8 will agree on a long-term target or not is something that the G-8 is continuing consultations on,” Japanese prime minister Yasuo Fukuda said at a news conference with Bush on Sunday in Toyako, Japan, on the eve of the summit.
Japan and European governments are pressing for measurable commitments to fight global warming. With Bush less than seven months from the end of his term, the other nations are looking to the next American administration to move beyond his appeals for more investment in technology to cut emissions.
Greenpeace, the environment watchdog, on Saturday called on the G-8—the US, Japan, Germany, Italy, Britain, France, Canada and Russia—to cut emissions by 30% from 1990 levels by 2020 and by as much as 90% by 2050.
Bush came into office in 2001 expressing scepticism of scientific views that man-made pollution is causing the earth’s atmosphere to overheat and met international condemnation by pulling the US out of the Kyoto climate-protection protocol. Since then, he has acknowledged the need to take action against global warming. While the US’ status as the world’s largest economy makes it the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide as well, Bush on Sunday said, “I am realistic enough to tell you that if China and India don’t share that same aspiration we’re not going to solve the problem.”
Leaders of eight countries including China and India will meet the G-8 when the summit ends on 9 July. The 27-nation European Union has vowed to make a 20% cut in carbon emissions by 2020 en route to a 50% cut by 2050. The EU’s aim at this week’s summit is to nudge the G-8 toward the same commitment, an EU official said in Brussels last week.
Bush also said the US will keep pressing Iran to stop enriching uranium and ensure North Korea has given a full accounting of its nuclear programme. Iran must heed “the just demands of the world to verifiably suspend its enrichment programme”, Bush said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to meet Bush on the sidelines of the G-8 summit to discuss steps to push forward the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement. The meeting is expected to provide an opportunity for the two leaders to review the latest position less than three years after they issued a joint statement.
PTI contributed to this story.