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G8 leaders tackle soaring oil prices, Africa aid and emission cuts
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10:34, July 09, 2008

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The leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) nations, meeting on the second day of their annual summit on Tuesday, expressed concern over the sharp rise in oil and food prices, reaffirmed their promise to increase aid to Africa and agreed on a long-term reduction target of greenhouse gases.

Climate change, the world economy and African development have been chosen as the main topics of three days of discussions in Toyako, a resort town on the northern island of Hokkaido.

The leaders from the G8 -- Britain, Canada, Italy, Japan, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- talked with the presidents of seven African nations a day earlier before having discussions of their own.

G8 leaders pose for the official Summit photograph at the Windsor Hotel Toya Resort and Spa in Toyako, Japan, July 8, 2008.


"We express our strong concerns about elevated commodity prices, especially of oil and food, since they pose a serious challenge to stable growth worldwide, have serious implications for the most vulnerable, and increase global inflationary pressure," the leaders said in a statement.

The leaders admitted "uncertainty" and "downside risks" for the world economy, but they remain positive about the long-term resilience of G8 economies and future global economic growth.

Emerging market economies are still growing strongly though theG8 nations' growth has moderated, said the statement.

The leaders said they would take actions to ensure stability and growth in their economies and globally and resist protectionist pressures against international trade and investment.

"A successful conclusion of an ambitious, balanced and comprehensive WTO Doha agreement is critical to economic growth and development," said the statement, calling all WTO members to make substantial contributions toward establishing modalities for Agriculture and NAMA (Non-Agricultural Market Access) and achieving positive and tangible results on services.

On the sharp rise in oil prices, the G8 leaders called for concerted efforts to address the underlying causes for the benefit of all. "Greater transparency will lead to better functioning energy markets and hence a better balance between supply and demand, " they said.


The leaders from the world's riches nations reaffirmed their promise to increase official development aid (ODA) to Africa by 25billion U.S. dollars annually by 2010.

The leaders admitted that ODA from the G8 and other donors to Africa should be reassessed and may need to be increased for the period after 2010, beyond their current commitments.

"At the mid-point to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), although progress has been made, significant challenges remain," the statement said.

Three years into the five-year aid promise, the G8 nations have delivered only 14 percent of the promised aid and, on current rends, are expected to fall 30 billion U.S. dollars short of the promised aid by 2010, said Oxfam, a non-governmental organization working to eradicate poverty internationally.

"Though the G8 communique reaffirms the Gleneagles commitment made three years ago, it offers no details on who will do what to reverse the steady decline in aid since 2006," said Oxfam.


The G8, which includes the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, the United States, agreed on a long-term target of at least halving global emissions by 2050.

"We seek to share with all Parties to the UNFCCC the vision of, and together with them to consider and adopt in the UNFCCC negotiations, the goal of achieving at least 50 percent reduction of global emissions by 2050," the leaders said in a statement.

The UNFCCC refers to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which entered into force in 1994 setting an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change.

The agreement "is an important and significant step forward" in the efforts to fight global warming, said Koji Tsuruoka, director-general for global issues with Japanese Foreign Ministry, told a press conference here.

However, the Japanese official stopped short of describing the agreement as a breakthrough.

"It is naive to think breakthrough can be made in less than a year" on such a sticky issue as climate change, referring to the fact that the UN climate change conference was held in Bali, Indonesia, at the end of last year when 190 countries agreed to launch new UN-led negotiations on fighting climate change.

The negotiations are expected to lead to the creation of a new framework for cutting carbon emissions when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. The UN talks are set to conclude in Copenhagen in December 2009.

The statement only set a long-term goal for reduction of global emissions rather than targets for each of the G8 nations, and it also failed to mention a base year for the reduction.

In the statement, the G8 leaders also said that "each of us will implement ambitious economy-wide mid-term goals in order to achieve absolute emissions reduction," without specifying what their mid- term goals are.

"Unless the G8 leaders agree to immediate action and medium-term targets for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by2020, any long-term promises will be unattainable," said Oxfam.


The G8 said they will continue to support the six-party process towards the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

"We are committed to resolving regional proliferation challenges by diplomatic means," said the leaders.

The G8 welcomed the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's provision of a declaration as a step toward the full implementation of the Joint Statement.

On Iran's nuclear program, the G8 leaders said they support and cooperate with the efforts by Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States "to resolve the issue innovatively through negotiation."


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