G8 climate change chaos
TOKYO, July 1 (Reuters) – G8 leaders have a 50-50 chance of agreeing next week on a global goal of halving greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century, a Japanese foreign ministry official said, adding that failure could hurt U.N.-led climate talks.
Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda hopes to build momentum for talks on a framework for after the Kyoto Protocol’s first phase ends in 2012 when the leaders meet for the July 7-9 Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido, northern Japan.
Fukuda also needs a diplomatic success to bolster his weak ratings at home, where speculation persists that his party might try to replace him before an election due by next year.
G8 leaders agreed last year in Heiligendamm, Germany to seriously consider a global goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2050. Climate campaigners say this year’s summit should go further by endorsing that goal and linking it to bold shorter-term targets for developed countries.
But divisions among the United States, Europe and Japan have raised doubts about how much the leaders can achieve next week.
“You need the leaders to exert a robust political message to the world which will be driving progress in the U.N. negotiations,” Koji Tsuruoka, director general for global issues at Japan’s foreign ministry, told Reuters in an interview.
Tsuruoka said a G8 failure to act would unintentionally send a negative message to the U.N. negotiations.
“The stakes are very high,” he said, adding that the chances of agreement were 50-50.
“Of course, the G8 will act responsibly by trying to move beyond the G8 understanding at Heiligendamm,” he said. “Whether that’s achievable or not depends on how the leaders will conduct discussions in Hokkaido.”
Europe wants the G8 to commit to a long-term goal of cutting the emissions that cause global warming by 50 percent from 1990 levels by mid-century. Japan is urging that the leaders agree to a common vision of halving emissions by mid-century, without specifying a base year, Tsuruoka said.
But the United States says it will only commit to targets if emerging economies such as China and India are on board.
“The U.S. position is very firm. A global issue requires a global response,” Tsuruoka said. “Its a very simple, clear position, and it is very difficult to disagree with that.”
But he added that he had not given up hope of a positive outcome.
“There is no need for us to be pessimistic because we have a common understanding that climate change is a very serious, global issues that the leaders will have to discuss,” he said.