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Merkel hails G8 climate change as 'step forward'

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Merkel hails G8 climate change as 'step forward'
Ahoy, Frau Merkel! Photo: DPA
11:27 CEST+02:00
Chancellor Angela Merkel called the Group of Eight's consensus on fighting climate change a “clear step forward” late on Wednesday after talks in L'Aquila, Italy.

Merkel attributed positive progress on climate issues to a sea change in US environmental policy. “Delivering on his promises” is something important to President Obama, she said.

The deal, which succeeded “after a long struggle,” included an acknowledgement by the world's top industrial nations that they should lead the way for developing nations.

Germany, the US, Japan, Great Britain, Canada, France, Italy and Russia agreed to limit the rise of average global temperatures by two degrees Celsius. Key emerging countries also accepted the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research director Hans Joachim Schnellnhuber hailed the G8 agreement on common climate goals as a breakthrough in an interview with RBB-Inforadio on Thursday. To reach this goal, EU countries must reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent in comparison to 1990 levels, he said. Meanwhile, the United States should sink their emissions by 10 percent, he added, calling for “an all-out brake as far as greenhouse gases are concerned” between 2020 and 2030.

According to German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, the 17 nations comprising the Major Economies Forum set a two-degree target on global climate change similar to the G8 agreement during a preliminary meeting in Rome.

But on the issue of greenhouse gas emissions, the G8, made up of the seven leading industrial nations and Russia, are struggling to agree on a common goal of a 50-percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050.

In the meantime, Merkel said there is “still much more to be done” in the run-up to a December conference on climate in Copenhagen, where countries are set to negotiate a successor policy to the Kyoto Protocol, which will expire in 2012.

The G8 nations also took action on the financial front, pledging to establish an international financial constitution and agreeing to revert to “sustainable budget management” once the state of the global economy improves.

On Thursday, summit talks will expand to include emerging economies, such as Brazil, India, China and Indonesia.

Before the start of this year's summit, Merkel visited sites in the L'Aquila region, which was devastated by an earthquake in early April.

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