G8 global warming deal

2009-07-08 19:26

L'Aquila - The Obama administration and other world leaders on Wednesday backed new targets for battling global warming, a move the Bush White House had resisted.

White House officials confirmed that US President Barack Obama agreed to language supporting a goal of keeping the world's average temperature from rising more than 2° C.

The agreement by the Group of Eight industrialised nations meeting in Italy, marks a significant step in efforts to limit greenhouse gases blamed for the world's rising temperature. The G-8 previously had not been able to agree on that temperature limit as a political goal.

It remains only a target, however, and it is far from clear that it will be met, especially as China, India and other rapidly industrialising nations generate and consume more energy from coal and other sources.

Climate change experts say the 2° threshold wouldn't eliminate the risk of runaway climate change but would reduce it. Even a slight increase in average temperatures could wreak havoc on farmers around the globe, as seasons shift, crops fail and storms and droughts ravage fields, scientists say.

The US and other nations objected to a farther-reaching climate goal, supported by some Europeans and environmental activists.

It would have committed industrialised nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, part of a global effort to reduce overall emissions by 50%.