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Weakly Worded Climate Deal

Green Groups Unimpressed By Weakly Worded Climate Deal

Reuters in Toyako – Updated on Jul 10, 2008

Group of Eight leaders and their counterparts from developing nations patched together a deal to fight climate change yesterday, but the weakly worded deal served only to underscore the divisions between the two blocs.

There were other signs of the gap in a speech by President Hu Jintao , who said rich countries had to do more to remove barriers to farm trade, blaming such restrictions for the global food crisis.

“All countries, the developed countries in particular, should display greater sincerity in the Doha agricultural negotiations, remove trade barriers, demonstrate flexibility over such issues as the reduction of agricultural subsidies, give full consideration to the special concerns of developing members, and deliver duty-free and quota-free market access for the least developed countries,” Mr Hu said.

Farm trade is one of the most controversial issues in the World Trade Organisation’s Doha round of market-opening talks. But climate change was the most contentious topic at the G8 summit, which also tackled the crisis in Zimbabwe, worsening security in Afghanistan, and soaring food and oil prices and poverty in Africa.

“There’s been no huge breakthrough at this particular meeting, it is one step along the road,” said Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who attended a climate change meeting yesterday at which the G8 leaders were joined by eight more big polluters.

The 16-member Major Economies Meeting group agreed that “deep cuts” in greenhouse gas emissions were needed to combat the global warming that is closely linked to rising food and fuel prices.

But bickering between rich and poorer countries kept most emerging economies from signing on to a goal of at least halving global emissions by 2050. Nor did the group come up with specific numbers for the interim targets they agreed advanced countries should set.

The leaders of Japan, Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Russia and the United States had embraced the 2050 goal a day earlier, but stressed their countries could not do it alone.

The rich countries had to paper over deep gaps just to get their own climate change deal, with Europe and Japan urging bolder action while the US opposed promising firm targets without assurances big emerging economies will act too.

Environmentalists saw nothing to cheer in the agreement.

“It’s the stalemate we’ve had for a while,” said Kim Carstensen of the WWF conservation group. “Given the lack of willingness to move forward, particularly by the US, it hasn’t been possible to break that.”

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