Legislating temperature limits to 2°C will surely be more effective than legislating alcohol. Right?
L’AQUILA, Italy — The world’s major industrial nations and newly emerging powers failed to agree Wednesday on specific cuts in heat-trapping gases by 2050, undercutting an effort to build a global consensus to fight climate change, according to people following the talks.
As President Obama arrived for three days of meetings, negotiators for the world’s 17 leading polluters dropped a proposal to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by mid-century, and emissions from the most advanced economies by 80 percent. But both the G-8 and the developing countries agreed to set a goal of stopping world temperatures from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels.
The discussion of climate change was among the top priorities of world leaders as they gathered here for the annual summit meeting of the Group of 8 powers. Mr. Obama invited counterparts from China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and others to join the G-8 here on Thursday for a parallel “Major Economies Forum” representing the producers of 80 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. But since President Hu Jintao of China abruptly left Italy to deal with unrest at home, the chances of making further progress seemed to evaporate.
The G-8 leaders were also grappling with the sagging global economy, development in Africa, turmoil in Iran, nuclear nonproliferation and other challenging issues. On Friday, Mr. Obama planned to unveil a $15 billion food security initiative by the G-8 to provide emergency and development aid to poor nations.
The failure to establish specific targets on climate change underscored the difficulty in bridging longstanding divisions between the most developed countries like the United States and developing nations like China and India. In the end, people close to the talks said, the emerging powers refused to agree to the specific emissions limits because they wanted industrial countries to commit to midterm goals in 2020, and to follow through on promises of financial and technological help.
“They’re saying, ‘We just don’t trust you guys,’ ” said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group based in the United States. “It’s the same gridlock we had last year when Bush was president.”
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