G8 Leaders Commit to 50% Cut in Greenhouse Gases by 2050

July 16, 2008

The world's eight leading industrialized nations—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—agreed on July 8 to pursue an international agreement that would achieve at least a 50% cut in global emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. During the annual summit for the Group of Eight (G8) in Japan, which is also attended by the president of the European Union, the leaders agreed to pursue the proposed emissions cut during negotiations for a new climate agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The G8 leaders and the UNFCCC intend to have a new climate agreement in place by the end of 2009, allowing for a full ratification and implementation of the agreement in time for the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012.

The G8 nations have also pledged $6 billion toward two Climate Investment Funds: the Clean Technology Fund, which aims to deploy clean energy technologies in developing countries, and the Strategic Climate Fund, which will help vulnerable countries develop climate-resilient economies while preventing deforestation. Both funds are administered by the World Bank. See the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit Web site and the "G8 Declaration on Environment and Climate Change" on the White House Web site.

While the G8 is now onboard with a 50% cut in emissions by 2050, it may be harder to achieve an agreement with other leading economies. In a subsequent meeting of the leaders of the world's major economies—including the G8, Australia, Brazil, India, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, and South Africa—no such goal was agreed to. The leaders of the major economies declared that climate change is one of the great global challenges of our time and agreed to pursue an international climate change agreement under the UNFCCC by December 2009, but did not list specific goals. See the declaration on the White House Web site.