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G8 leaders agree to halve greenhouse gas emission by 2050
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Leaders of the Group of Eight countries have agreed on the long-term target of at least halving global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, participants of the G8 summit in northern Japan said Tuesday.

"A new, shared vision by the major economies on the climate challenge within the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) framework has emerged from the G8 in Toyako," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in a statement shortly after the G8 leaders' working session in the morning.

"We have agreed that we should also set up mid-term targets, as the EU is already establishing for 2020," said Barroso, who was present at the meeting.

The leaders said in a joint statement that they welcomed decisions taken last year at the Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, as the foundation for reaching a global agreement in the UNFCCC process by 2009.

"We are committed to its successful conclusion," they said, referring to the negotiation process under the UN framework, "We remain on track to reach a global climate deal in Copenhagen in 2009."

The UNFCCC parties agreed at the Bali conference in 2007 to launch formal negotiations that were set to be concluded by the end of 2009 at the Climate Change Conference in the Danish capital Copenhagen, with the main objective of achieving global consensus on targets for emission cut as the Kyoto Protocol will expire in 2012.

The G8 leaders said they agreed to share with UNFCCC parties and "adopt the goal of at least halving global emissions by 2050, " recognizing that this global challenge can only be met by a global response, in particular from all major economies, consistent with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities."

The G8 countries represent only 13.5 percent of the global population but contribute 39 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, and an even greater share if calculated on the basis of historical accumulation.

The G8 leaders said they acknowledged their countries' leading role and would each "implement ambitious economy -wide mid-term goals," adding that they would start first by efforts to stop the growth of emissions as soon as possible.

Barroso said he was happy about the results of the summit as " the European Union benchmark for success at the summit has been achieved".

The agreement to halve greenhouse gas emission by 2050 is considered a breakthrough by environmentalists as the United States, by far the largest polluter, refused to commit to the long-term goal.

However, the leaders have failed to set binding mid-term targets for emission reductions, a result in line with previous expectations of analysts. The chances for the leaders to come up with absolute numbers for the mid-term targets were limited, Philip Clapp of the United States based non-governmental Pew Environment Group said before the meeting. The industrialized nations shall also help support the mitigation plans of major developing economies by technology, finance and capacity building, the leaders said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 8, 2008)

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