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G8 Reaches Deal on 'Substantial' Emission Cuts
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Leaders of eight industrialized nations meeting in Germany have agreed to pursue "substantial" cuts in greenhouse gases, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday.

Group of Eight (G8) powers failed to overcome US resistance to committing to specific numerical targets to curb global warming but did refer to the goal of some countries of cutting emissions by 50 percent by 2050.

"In terms of targets, we agreed on clear language ... that recognizes that (rises in) CO2 emissions must first be stopped and then followed by substantial reductions," Merkel told reporters at the G8 summit in the Baltic coast resort of Heiligendamm.

She hailed the decision as a "huge success," adding that it came after many rounds of talks and negotiations.

The summit text confirmed that the eight nations would act to stem the rise in global warming gases, followed by "substantial" reductions, the most serious commitment to action on the issue by the United States, the world's largest global warmer.

Washington had resisted attempts by Merkel to set a firm goal for cuts needed to combat a warming of the earth's surface that scientists say risks swelling sea levels and causing more droughts and floods.

But she secured a partial victory by securing an inclusion of the target in the text.

The European Union believes 50 percent cuts are needed to ensure that global temperatures do not rise more than 2 C above pre-industrial levels, a threshold it says will trigger "dangerous" changes in the climate system.

Merkel is hosting three days of talks at a Baltic coast resort with counterparts from Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

Environmentalists condemned the G8's failure to agree on specific, binding goals.

"Agreeing on a numerical target is a significant first step, and not taking that first step is going to condemn us to a lot of pain and suffering in terms of the impact of climate change," said Neil Adger of Britain's Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

G8 leaders are tackling other threats to global stability, including increased tension between the United States and Russia which some have said heralded the start of a new Cold War.

US President George W. Bush sought to calm tensions with Moscow ahead of a highly anticipated face-to-face meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin at the summit.

"I repeat Russia's not a threat, they're not a military threat, they're not something that we ought to be hyperventilating about," Bush said. "What we ought to be doing is figuring out ways to work together."

At a morning session focused on economic issues, Merkel sat between Bush and Putin, who have exchanged public barbs on US missile shield plans in the run-up to the summit.

The two presidents, smiling and looking relaxed, have not met face-to-face since before Putin launched a verbal attack on the Bush administration in February, accusing it of trying to force its will on the world and become its "single master".

Bush said he would reiterate to Putin his proposal to have Russia send generals and scientists to the United States to reassure them on his plans to put a radar system in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland.

(China Daily via agencies June 8, 2007)

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