Published January 13, 2015
Leaders of the world's wealthy nations appeared to bow to U.S. pressure on climate change (search), approving a watered-down declaration Friday that avoids setting targets or timetables for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
But in his final speech at the G-8 (search) summit, Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that the G-8 countries and five of the world's largest emerging economies -- China, Brazil, India, Mexico and South Africa -- had agreed to work together to counter global warming.
He said they would meet Nov. 1 in Britain to discuss the effort to "slow down and then in time reverse the rise in harmful greenhouse gas emissions (search)."
Blair later said climate change could not be tackled without proper support from America, China, and India.
"If it is impossible to bring America into the consensus on climate change we will never ensure the huge emerging economies like China and India ... are part of the dialogue," Blair said at the end of the G-8 summit. He added that Russia has agreed to make climate change a major priority when it takes over the G-8 presidency next year.
French President Jacques Chirac has called the declaration -- to be issued later Friday -- a partial victory and said it ensures "indispensable dialogue" and unity in tackling the thorny problem.
Faced with the dangers represented by climate change, "only coherent action can have a chance to change things, and this coherent action supposes a real union," Chirac said at a news conference Friday. "In reality, this has been the success of the summit."
U.S. officials had lobbied against the inclusion in the G-8 communique of any specific reduction targets, as called for in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol (search). The United States is the only G-8 country that has refused to ratify the Kyoto treaty, which President Bush said would have "wrecked" the U.S. economy.
The seven G-8 members who ratified the protocol are bound by its reduction targets, and some countries had hoped to use the summit to get the United States to make a similar commitment.
Environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth International, WWF International and Greenpeace called the Group of Eight major industrialized nations to task Friday for failing to seriously tackle climate change, and blamed Bush for the impasse.
"The G-8 leaders did not agree on a single concrete action to address climate change," said Philip E. Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust. "President Bush did not budge one inch from the intransigent position he has taken on global warming ... and the White House staff worked nonstop for months to water any possible deal down."
A draft of the final Gleneagles statement obtained Friday by The Associated Press says "climate change is a serious long-term challenge that has the potential to affect every part of the globe" and that the world's increasing use of fossil fuels such as oil and gasoline are a main source of the problem.
The world leaders pledge to "act with resolve and urgency to meet our shared and multiple objectives of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving the global environment, enhancing energy security and cutting air pollution in conjunction with our vigorous efforts to reduce poverty."
No specific actions or deadlines are set.
The final draft statement only mentioned the Kyoto Protocol once, saying: "Those of us who have ratified the Kyoto Protocol welcome its entry into force and will work to make it a success."
France and others had hoped to include a reference in the declaration promoting the Kyoto Protocol and stating how to proceed when it expires in 2012.
Blair said after meeting with Bush on Thursday that differences between the United States and other industrialized nations over Kyoto would not be resolved, but he hoped to build consensus on how tackle global warming. Blair also had stressed the need to move on from Kyoto.
But China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, which attended the summit, issued a joint statement Thursday endorsing the Kyoto Protocol and urging developed countries such as the United States to "take the lead in international action to combat climate change by fully implementing their obligations of reducing emissions."