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G8 close to climate deal but it could lack detail

July 6, 2005

By Gideon Long

GLENEAGLES, Scotland (Reuters) – World leaders look set to
reach a deal on climate change at their G8 summit on Thursday
but environmentalists will be unimpressed if, as expected, they
fail to commit themselves to specific targets.

After a day marked by clashes between police and
anti-capitalist protesters, leaders of the Group of Eight
industrialized nations will use their first full day at
Gleneagles to seek a deal on global warming which brings the
world’s largest polluters, the Americans, on board.

The United States is the only G8 country to have refused to
ratify the Kyoto Protocol and has been isolated on the issue.
President Bush has been slow to accept the world is getting
warmer and that mankind is at least partly to blame.

Environmentalists have urged the other seven G8 nations to
isolate Bush and, if necessary, issue a split communiqu© rather
than accept a watered down deal.

But British officials say Prime Minister Tony Blair,
hosting the summit at a heavily fortified luxury hotel in the
rolling hills of central Scotland, is concentrating on getting
Washington on board.

“We think we are getting close,” one British official said
on Wednesday, a comment echoed by G8 diplomats.

“The final communiqu© will give a clear indication of
various actions to be taken that could lead to a reduction of
greenhouse gas emissions,” said Italian diplomat Cesare
Ragaglini, who has been at the forefront of negotiations.

“We are very satisfied.”

One G8 source even went so far as to say the exact wording
of the final communiqu© had been fully agreed, although it is
unlikely to satisfy environmental campaigners.

“There is no way we are going to resolve the historic
disagreement on Kyoto,” said Blair, who has made climate change
– along with the alleviation of poverty in Africa — central
to Britain’s year-long G8 presidency.

“Nor is the G8 the place to negotiate a new treaty.”

Blair will welcome to the talks the leaders of Brazil,
China, India, Mexico and South Africa, whose rapidly expanding
economies are contributing to global pollution. The United
States says their cooperation is central to any deal.

OIL PRICE WORRIES

The world economy will also dominate Thursday’s talks at
this plush golf resort, with record oil prices the main
concern.

Oil prices hovered near record levels on Wednesday despite
expectations the leaders are set to make an official appeal for
more stable prices and more freedom for oil companies to invest
in oil-rich countries.

There are no plans to include any comment on currencies in
the economic communiqu©.

G8 leaders will discuss foreign policy issues, particularly
the Middle East, although they are not expected to make any
major announcements.

Following five days of pop concerts, demonstrations and
sporadic violent protests on Scotland’s streets which have
focused public attention on the G8 like never before, there are
no anti-G8 protests planned on Thursday.

However, police will be on the lookout for repeats of
Wednesday’s clashes, when officers charged at demonstrators to
push them away from a steel fence surrounding the summit
center.

Police have arrested around 100 people for public order
offences in the area in the last 24 hours.

Much of the demonstrators’ anger stems from the failure of
the world’s rich countries to alleviate poverty in the
developing world, particularly in Africa.

That will be the focus of Friday’s talks, when anti-poverty
campaigners will urge the G8 to double aid to Africa to $50
billion a year, open markets to African goods and cancel debt.

In a speech in London on Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General
Kofi Annan urged G8 leaders to make bold steps toward meeting
the Millennium Development Goals, which include halving extreme
poverty and hunger by 2015.

“If current trends persist, some of the poorest countries
will not be able to meet many — or perhaps any — of the Goals
by 2015,” he said.

“Considering how far we have come, such a failure would be
a tragic missed opportunity.”




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