Chancellor Merkel Expects G8 Agreement on Climate Change

HEILIGENDAMM, Germany, June 7, 2007 (ENS) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the leaders of the world's eight most industrialized nations "stand a good chance" of finding a joint position on climate protection issues. After bilateral meetings with U.S. President George W. Bush and other heads of state and government, she said the atmosphere was "very constructive."

The fact that none of those taking part in the G8 could avoid the issue of climate change already amounted to a success, Merkel told journalists late Wednesday at the Kempinski Grand Hotel in Heiligendamm. Nnobody disputed the need for a process, she said, although it would have to lead into a United Nations process.

The Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change expires in 2012. All of the G8 members except for the United States are legally bound by the protocol to reduce their emissions of six greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2 percent by the end of 2012.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President George W. Bush speak with reporters after their bi-lateral meeting Wednesday in Heiligendamm. (Photo courtesy REGIERUNGonline / Kuehler)
The international focus now is on drafting an agreement to limit these gases after 2012, and extends to the largest emitters of greenhouse gases that have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, including the United States and rapidly industrializing countries such as China and India.

President Bush thanked the Chancellor for her leadership and promised his co-operation in the post-Kyoto process.

"I come with a strong desire to work with you on a post-Kyoto agreement about how we can achieve major objectives," Bush said. "One, of course, is the reduction of greenhouse gases. Another is to become more energy independent - in our case, from crude oil from parts of the world where we've got some friends, and sometimes we don't have friends."

"We have a good chance to share our technologies with the developing world to make sure that we're good stewards of the environment," said the President.

Chancellor Merkel held bilateral meetings Wednesday with Italy's Prime Minister Romano Prodi, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

This continues a series of one-to-one meetings Merkel has held with each of her seven guests. Over the course of the past few days in Berlin, Merkel has met British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper and her Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe.

Abe is seeking to demonstrate leadership in forging a consensus over discussions for a new emissions reduction framework beyond the current Kyoto Protocol.

Bush, too, has said he seeks to lead on climate issues at the G8 summit. Speaking with reporters following his meeting with Abe Wednesday, the U.S. President sounded confused about who would, in fact, lead whom.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President George W. Bush in Heiligendamm after their bi-lateral meeting. (Photo by Eric Draper courtesy The White House)
"We had an extensive discussion about energy and climate change," Bush said. "I reminded the Prime Minister that his great country and great economy is going to lead the way when it comes - along with the United States, in leading the way coming to develop technologies that will enable us to be - change our energy habits, and at the same time be good stewards of the environment."

Germany had called for setting a long-term goal of halving greenhouse gas emissions worldwide by 2050, but due to opposition by the United States, the numerical target may not be included in the chair's summary Merkel will issue on Friday at the close of the summit.

It is clear, Merkel told reporters Wednesday, that the whole world would not immediately share the European Union's climate protection goals. "What counts is whether, at the end of this Summit, we have taken a step further," she said.

In the British Parliament on Wednesday, Prime Minister Tony Blair said he believed there would be agreement for the first time "on the science of climate change and the fact that it is human activity that is causing it."

On the back of that shared understanding, it is important to ensure that countries agree on specific targets within a new framework to replace the existing Kyoto Protocol, he said.

"It will be important that we manage to get agreement that there should be a new global deal that involves all the main players, including America and China. At the heart of that there needs to be a global target for a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions," said Blair.

These agreements should then be followed through via the processes of the United Nations, said Blair, who is attending his last G8 Summit as he is stepping down within the year.

Along with climate protection, fighting poverty in Africa is one of the main topics on the G8 agenda in Heiligendamm.

Musicians working to relieve poverty in Africa talk with President Bush in Heiligendamm. From left: Sir Bob Geldof, Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour, President Bush, Bono, leader of the band U2. (Photo by Shealah Craighead courtesy The White House)
Wednesday afternoon Chancellor Merkel had a meeting with musicians Bob Geldof and Bono, who have been politically active on behalf of Africa's poor.

She assured them that the German government will make an additional 750 million available for African development co-operation in 2008, the largest increase in the German budget.

In addition, Merkel said, innovative financial tools will be used to assist Africa, such as the proceeds businesses make by auctioning off emissions certificates for the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

G8 leaders will start group talks today, aiming to find common ground on a new international framework to fight global warming, among other issues.

For Merkel, the focus of this G8 meeting is on how to "give globalization a human face."

The G8 leaders must fight poverty together, she said, to guarantee freedom of investment and not lose sight of the social dimension of globaliZation. Above all, leaders have to look at how to work together to stem the tide of international conflicts.

Their first working session Thursday is on economic growth and responsibility in the global economy. The heads of state and government will meet young people from the Junior 8 summit around midday. The boys and girls have spent the past few days discussing the issues on the G8 agenda at their own summit.

During a working lunch the G8 will talk about current foreign policy issues. These will include the conflict in the Middle East and nuclear non-proliferation. Problems concerning Kosovo and Sudan are on the agenda.

The afternoon working session will be dealing with climate change and energy efficiency. A working dinner will focus on the G8 Africa Policy.

Friday, will begin with a working session between the G8 leaders and the leaders of African countries. The focus will be on the G8 Africa Reform Partnership.

Following that, the G8 leaders will meet with the leaders of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa to discuss growth and responsibility in the global economy and climate change.

The working lunch that rounds off the summit will be dedicated to the most important international organisations. The Secretary General of the United Nations and the Vice-President of the World Bank, among others, are expected to attend.

At the close of the summit the G8 leaders are expected to issue six separate documents - on the world economy, Africa, trade, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, anti-terrorism, and the situation in Sudan.

All this week, thousands of anti-G8 protesters have blocked roads to the summit site and clashed with police. Other anti-G8 protests were held across Germany.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007. All rights reserved.