G8 Summit: US to "Seriously Consider" European Climate Pact

Yesterday in Heiligendamm, Germany, the G8 summit closed with the announcement of a compromise on climate change that has newspaper editors around the world burning out their quotation mark keys: the US agreed to "seriously consider" a European goal of halving worldwide planetary greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the G8 "endorsed" US President George Bush's plan for a meeting of 15 nations to set "national goals for reducing emissions," and German chancellor Angela Merkel declared the agreement a "huge success."

As one might expect, environmental groups tended to have a less enthusiastic response to the announced "agreement":

"Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Blair are trying to portray this as a strong agreement. But President Bush didn't give them an inch," said Philip Clapp, president of the US National Environmental Trust.

"The best they could get from him was a statement that their 50 percent-by-2050 emissions reduction proposal would be 'seriously considered'. That's a pretty tiny landmark."

Greenpeace -- which earlier sent two boats of activists into the maritime exclusion zone near the summit hotel in a global warming protest -- also slammed the accord.

"The deal is clearly not enough to prevent dangerous climate change," said the group's climate policy advisor Daniel Mittler.

Greenpeace believes that G8 states need to slash emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050 to avoid catastrophic global warming.

The Nature Conservancy hailed the inclusion of a Forest Carbon Partnership in the agreement, but the organization's president and CEO Steve McCormick otherwise noted that "...more must be done. The United States should have been advocating for a binding commitment among G-8 nations to significantly reduce emissions immediately and over the coming decades." Environmental Defense president Fred Krupp "...praised Bush's acceptance of the summit plan," according to the LA Times.

The fact that the US leadership didn't simply reject the G8 plan probably is a step forward, as is the Bush administration's stated willingness to participate in the process of negotiating a follow-up to the Kyoto protocols. At the same time, "serious consideration" is a pretty soft goal that still leaves possible rejection on the table. We're still in "wait and see" mode...

Today, the G8 will meet with representatives of "Plus Five" nations (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa) today to discuss those countries' role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.::New York Times, LA Times, Raw Story and Forbes

Photo credit: Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images

Tags: Germany

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