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Merkel hails deal on carbon emissions cuts as „turning point”

Leaders from the Group of Eight (G8) leading industrial powers sealed on Thursday a compromise on climate change which German Chancellor Angela Merkel described as a „real turning point.”

Merkel told reporters that the leaders have agreed to „substantially” cut greenhouse gas emissions in the fight against climate change, which is a „great success” and a „real turning point.” According to the chancellor, the G8 leaders have agree to „seriously consider” the decisions made by the European Union, Canada and Japan of cutting carbon emissions by 50% below 1990 levels by 2050. They also agreed to tackle climate change within the framework of the United Nations, said Merkel.

„What can be most possibly achieved has been achieved,” said Merkel. The agreement sent a „strong signal” to the UN climate conference to be held in December in Bali, Indonesia designed to kick off the international negotiations for a post-Kyoto agreement, she said. According to a draft of the G8 summit declaration issued Thursday, the leaders agreed that further actions on climate change, should be based on the UN principle of „common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities,” with G8 nations taking the lead.

„We acknowledge the continuing leadership role that developed economies have to play in any future climate change efforts to reduce global emissions,” it said. Meanwhile, the G8 nations would „invite” the emerging countries, including China and India, to „address the increase in their emissions by reducing the carbon intensity of their economic development,” said the declaration. Environmental activists said they were disappointed by the G8 agreement.

Martin Hiller, spokesman for the UN World Wide Fund (WWF) told Xinhua that the leaders have finally failed to agree on „concrete targets.” The United States „has not yet fundamentally changed its position” on climate change as the agreement remains somewhat „vague,” he said. Still, there are „a few important steps forward,” he said. Germany, which holds the rotating G8 presidency, has called for actions to limit the rise in global temperatures to two degrees Celsius this century, which experts say requires a global reduction in emissions of 50% below 1990 levels by 2050.

However, the United States, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas producer, had voiced „fundamental opposition” to mandatory targets, making climate change one of the most controversial issues during the G8 summit. Shortly before the summit, US President George W. Bush announced a separate plan, calling on 15 of the world’s biggest greenhouse emitters to meet and agree on long-term goals by the end of 2008. The United States, which has not signed the Kyoto Treaty, said environmental protection cannot come at the price of hurting economic growth. (