G8 leaders agree to global warming goals
L'Aquila (Italy), 9 July 2009 - Hopes that a comprehensive climate agreement can be agreed in Copenhagen in December were given encouragement after leaders of the world's eight major economic powers agreed to broad goals for reducing global warming at the G8 meeting in L'Aquila.
In a statement, the leaders agreed that the increase in global average temperatures should not exceed 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels by 2020.
They also set a long-term goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent worldwide, and by 80 per cent among industrialized nations, by 2050.
The G8 statement says the G8 countries "reconfirm [their] strong commitment to the UNFCCC negotiations and to the successful conclusion of a global, wide-ranging and ambitious post-2012 agreement in Copenhagen, involving all countries, consistent with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities".
The 2-degree threshold is seen as a breakthrough for the G8: while the EU and its G8 members had already agreed on this in 1996, this is the first time the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada have adopted this goal.
In a letter to the G8 leaders before the summit, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked them to take the lead on the issue of climate change by making "ambitious and firm commitments" to slash greenhouse gas emissions.
Mr Ban also said resources must be committed to help the poorest and most vulnerable adapt to climate change, and to ' seal the deal' on an ambitious new pact in December in Copenhagen to replace the Kyoto Protocol - whose first commitment period ends in 2012.
On 9 July, the G8 leaders meet the heads of the world's major developing nations - including China, India and Brazil - in order to broaden the discussions and try to find common ground on global warming and international trade.
The L'Aquila meeting comes just 150 days before the crucial UN climate convention meeting in Copenhagen (Denmark), where 192 nations will meet to agree on how to tackle climate change.
There is increasing evidence that the world needs to take urgent action to address climate change, and that powering green growth is a crucial way of achieving this.
Both UNEP and Oxfam have recently released reports showing that climate change is likely to cause chronic hunger and food shortages around the world by triggering crop failure, drought, land degradation and erosion.
On the eve of the G8 meeting in L'Aquila, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner called for political action on powering a green economy.