Heiligendamm, Germany:World leaders agreed on 7 June 2007 to pursue substantial but unspecified cuts in greenhouse gases and work with the United Nations to clinch a new deal to fight global warming by 2009.
The agreement, sealed at a G8 summit on the Baltic coast, binds the world’s largest polluter, the United States, more closely into international efforts to curb the gases scientists say are causing dangerous changes to world weather patterns.
But it does not commit the club of industrialised nations — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States — to the firm emissions reduction targets that the summit host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, had wanted.
US President George W Bush has refused to sign up to numerical targets before rising powers like China and India make similar pledges. Convincing them to join the UN process will be crucial to reversing a rise in global temperatures.
Protests by anti-globalisation activists continued around the venue, with demonstrators blocking road access and stopping a steam train meant to shuttle officials to and from the elegant 19th century seaside hotel where leaders met.
Police patrol craft rammed two inflatable speed boats that breached a security zone around the venue, tipping environmental activists into the Baltic and injuring three of them.
On global warming, the G8 agreed that “resolute and concerted international action” was urgently needed, vowing to stem a rise in greenhouse gases, followed by “substantial” reductions.
Leaders also said they would pursue a new global climate deal by 2009 to extend and broaden the Kyoto Protocol. The final text noted that the EU, Canada and Japan all wanted emissions halved by the middle of the century — a sign of the split over targets advocated by Merkel.
Under the deal, new climate proposals unveiled by Bush last week would be integrated into the established United Nations process — a key demand of European countries.
The language represented a partial victory for Merkel, who spent months pressuring the United States, the only G8 country not to sign up to Kyoto, to compromise.
“It’s a very positive outcome,” Yvo de Boer, the head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat in Bonn, told Reuters.
“But bear in mind that this is a G8 conclusion and there are one or two other countries in the world who have to commit to a launch in Bali,” he said, referring to a December UN meeting in Indonesia where talks will begin to extend Kyoto beyond 2012.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who put the climate issue on the global agenda at a G8 summit two years ago, hailed the deal as a “major step forward” and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Bush had shown “real flexibility”.
However, French President Nicolas Sarkozy was less enthusiastic: “If you want me to say that we could have done better then, yes. I want to speak frankly.”