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G8 seeks 50% emission cut by 2050, developing nations skeptical

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G8 leaders adopted a statement on Tuesday setting a goal of halving carbon emissions by mid-century, but developing nations and top environmentalists dismissed the agreement as meaningless.
HOKKAIDO (Japan), July 8 (RIA Novosti) - G8 leaders adopted a statement on Tuesday setting a goal of halving carbon emissions by mid-century, but developing nations and top environmentalists dismissed the agreement as meaningless.

Leaders of the Group of Eight rich nations, meeting for a second day on north Japan's Hokkaido island, said in the statement they would "take strong leadership in combating climate change" and "consider and adopt" at UN climate negotiations "the goal of achieving at least 50% reduction of global emissions by 2050."

However, the statement gave no indication of solid commitments to emissions cuts in the medium-term, and insisted on reciprocal action from developing nations, in an apparent concession to the position of George W. Bush, now in his final months as U.S. leader.

Rather than setting binding international targets for specific dates, the leaders of the Group of Eight - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States - said: "each of us will implement ambitious economy-wide mid-term goals" to reduce emissions, and "where applicable, first stop the growth of emissions as soon as possible, reflecting comparable efforts among all developed economies."

Mexico, Brazil, China, India and South Africa also issued a joint statement on Tuesday, calling on G8 countries to take responsibility for their own emissions, without basing their pledges on demands on developing nations.

South Africa's Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said the ambiguities in the G8 statement showed that rich nations had made little progress in their climate talks.

"As it is expressed in the G8 statement, the long-term goal is an empty slogan without substance," he said.

Yvo de Boer, head of the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat, told international news agencies that although the G8 appeared to be expressing the right intentions, the lack of concrete targets up to 2020 meant that the statement would do little to move international negotiations forward.

Environmental groups were even more scathing over the statement, saying it had no legal force, and bypassed many key concerns, with no mention of any intention to reduce the use of coal, a major contributor to man-made climate change.

AFP news agency quoted NASA scientist James Hansen, a leading authority on climate change, as saying the agreement was worse than useless.

"A statement of any goal for percent reduction is worthless. Indeed, it is worse than that: it is a pretence that they understand the problem and plan to take needed actions," he told the agency.

The G8 leaders said they plan to discuss the issue with other major economies on Wednesday.

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